AAP Endorses Conclusions of GAO Study Showing That Changes in Technologies and Student Learning Drive College Textbook Prices
Report Pinpoints Market Trends
But Uses Data that Distorts Student Spending
AAP Provides Independent Data that GAO Excluded
WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The Association of American Publishers (AAP) today endorsed the conclusions of a GAO study on college textbooks that note textbook prices have been largely driven by publishers' investments in additional instructional materials and new technologies. Those investments were made in response to faculty needs and to enhance student success. AAP did, however, express continuing concern that pricing analyses in the study do not provide a balanced picture of the actual costs to students, the range of materials available to students, or the added value those materials offer to faculty and students. "Publishers strive to continually develop materials that meet the ever-evolving needs of faculty and students," said Patricia Schroeder, AAP's president and chief executive officer. "As GAO noted, there has been a change in both the characteristics of postsecondary education and the role of publishers. Just look at the facts: college funding and graduation rates have fallen, tuition rates are soaring, and our colleges are being asked to serve students with diverse learning styles and a wider range of preparedness and skill sets. The publishers' response has been to work with educators to produce new, advanced materials and integrated teaching tools that faculty use to tailor their materials for their students." "As you read through the report, you will find time and again the publishers' primary focus is on meeting the needs of students. For example, publishers have responded to price concerns by greatly expanding the number of low-cost texts, including split editions, electronic books, black-and-white editions, custom books, abbreviated editions and complete learning packages. The market for these products has grown significantly in recent years. Publishers are also providing a wider range of instructional supplements, including course-management tools for faculty. Together, these supplements and management tools enable faculty to teach more students and achieve better results. "Our key concern with GAO's report is that they relied on data that do not reflect the true cost of books to students. Two independently derived estimates -- based on actual sales data from the National Association of College Stores (NACS) and the Association of American Publishers -- confirmed that the average full-time equivalent student actually spends about $580 per year on textbooks, far less than the $898 figure used repeatedly in GAO's report. GAO's figure for the cost of books and supplies is based on unconfirmed estimates of student spending by those college administrators who complete the annual IPEDS survey. "By combining textbooks and supplies, GAO created an inaccurate picture of the actual cost of textbooks to students. Supplies are not just pencils and notebooks; they may include computers, calculators, lab equipment, and other materials that represent at least 27 percent of total student spending on books and supplies. My members do not develop or produce supplies. "GAO also chose to dismiss reliable survey data from Student Monitor(1) showing that average student spending on textbooks increased only about two percent annually between 1999 and 2004. They did not factor in the amounts of money students receive when they sell their used textbooks. And, when computing the overall cost of textbooks, the GAO did not factor in the increasing use of lower-cost alternatives -- a trend that the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted it did not track before 2001 and still may not be accurately reflected in its data," Mrs. Schroeder said. Note: For further clarification see attached AAP analyses of independent data sources. AAP has written a letter to GAO to explain its continuing concerns about the report's data and how it is presented. A copy of the letter can be found at http://www.publishers.org/highered/topics.cfm?topicid=5 About the Association of American Publishers The Association of American Publishers is the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry. AAP's approximately three hundred members include most of the major commercial book publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and nonprofit publishers, university presses, and scholarly societies. For information on the Association of American Publishers and research and data on college textbooks and e-learning technology, please visit http://www.publishers.org/highered/index.cfm. (1) Student Monitor is the only nationally syndicated market research study of the college student market, and has been surveying students twice a year since 1987. The company's clients include The New York Times, the Pentagon, and more than 100 of the Fortune 500(R) corporations. A 2001 GAO report cited a Student Monitor study as drawing on a "statistically valid sample that [is] representative of a broad college student population in the United States." (GAO-01-773, Washington, 2001, page 18.) Note: AAP analyses using independent data sources demonstrate that student spending on textbooks and supplemental educational materials was approximately $580 in 2003. Chart 1: Estimated per capita spending on course materials, 2003, based on National Association of College Stores Data Line Statistic Value Source 1 Course Materials purchases, US college stores $6,230,000,000 NACS 2 Online purchases of textbooks $261,000,000 Student Monitor 3 Total spending on textbooks and course materials $6,491,000,000 Line 1 + Line 2 4 Full-time students, 2003 est. 8,874,000 Dept of Education 5 Part-time students, 2003 est. 5,584,000 Dept of Education 6 Head-count enrollment 14,458,000 Line 4 + Line 5 7 FTE enrollment (full-time + 1/3 part time) 11,056,330 Line 4 + (Line 5/3) 8 Spending on course materials per student $449 Line 3/Line 6 9 Spending on course materials per FTE student $587 Line 3/Line 7 Source: The National Association of College Stores (NACS) surveys college stores annually and collects data on actual sales of course materials. "Course materials" are mainly textbooks, but also include locally-produced "course packs" of readings assigned by professors for individual courses. For 2003-04, NACS estimated that U.S. college stores sold about $6.2 billion worth of course materials. -- Student Monitor, an independent research firm, surveys college students twice a year, and estimates that students purchased $260 million worth of textbooks online in 2003. -- Adding $6.2 billion sold in stores and $260 million spent online yields an estimate of $6.5 billion, or $587 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student. The table summarizes the statistics used to derive the estimate. Chart 2: Estimated per capita spending on textbooks, 2003, based on Association of American Publishers Data Line Statistic Value Source 1 New textbook sales (wholesale) $3,007,600,000 AAP 2 Average margin on new books 23% NACS 3 Average markup on new books 30% Line 2/1-Line 2 4 Total spending on new books (est.) at bookstores $4,289,000,000 Line 1/ 1-Line 3 5 % used books (retail) 29.8% Bowker (MIR) 6 Total spending on textbooks at bookstores, including used books $6,110,000,000 Line 4/1-Line 5 7 Online purchases $261,000,000 Student Monitor 8 Total spending on textbooks $6,371,000,000 Line 6 + Line 7 9 Full-time students, 2003 est. 8,874,000 Dept of Education 10 Part-time students, 2003 est. 5,584,000 Dept of Education 11 Head-count enrollment 14,458,000 Line 9 + Line 10 12 FTE enrollment (full-time + 1/3 part time) 11,056,330 Line 9 + (Line 10/3) 13 Spending on textbooks per student $441 Line 8/Line 11 14 Spending on textbooks per FTE student $576 Line 8/Line 12 Source: The Association of American Publishers (AAP) reports its members' total actual sales by subject area. In 2003, U.S. publishers sold approximately $3.0 billion worth of new higher education books, primarily textbooks sold to college bookstores. According to NACS, college stores' average profit margin for new college textbooks is 23%, equivalent to an average markup of 30%. A 30% average markup on $3.0 billion implies a retail market of $4.3 billion for new textbooks. -- R.R. Bowker, through its MIR division, reports data on actual retail textbook sales at college stores representing about half the U.S. market. In 2003, used textbooks represented 29.8% of textbook sales at college stores. If the new textbook market is $4.3 billion at retail, and used books represent 29.8% of all sales of textbook at college stores, total sales of textbooks through college stores are $4.3 billion / 70.2%, or $6.1 billion. -- Student Monitor, an independent research firm, surveys college students twice a year, and estimates that students purchased $260 million worth of textbooks online in 2003. -- Adding $6.1 billion sold in stores and $260 million spent online yields an estimate of $6.4 billion, or $576 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student. The table summarizes the statistics used to derive the estimate.
SOURCE Association of American Publishers
Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.
Learn about PR Newswire services
Request more information about PR Newswire products and services or call us at (888) 776-0942.