WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The Association of American Publishers has arranged a Feb. 14 meeting with representatives of the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) to review recent surveys relating to college textbooks. "For more than a year we have offered our resources and those of our members and independent experts to help to build bridges and share knowledge with the Public Interest Research Group," said Patricia Schroeder, president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Publishers. "We understand that the increase in tuition and student fees, along with the cost of textbooks, is putting a great deal of pressure on students and parents. And I know that paying cash for college textbooks has been an emotional issue for as long as I can remember. It was for me and my children," Schroeder said. "Still, that doesn't justify all of the misinformation and misunderstanding we've seen over the last few days. Citing the Producer Price Index (PPI), as a source for tracking the price of textbooks is just wrong. The PPI does not represent what students actually pay for textbooks. PIRG failed to explain that the PPI is an index which represents wholesale prices of educational materials," Schroeder said. "Publishers do not use the PPI, finding it uninformative. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which produces the PPI, does not share where its information comes from so publishers cannot tell what the PPI is measuring. The PPI does not measure what students pay for textbooks. It does not take into account used book sales, which have grown rapidly over the last 15 years. It does not take into account what students receive when they sell their used books. It is an index that does not measure volume. This final point is especially telling because PPI's numbers do not reflect the recent surge in sales of alternative, low cost editions offered by publishers," Schroeder continued. "There are a variety of sources that do measure what students spend -- the College Board, the State of Illinois and the State of California -- and these sources are all generally consistent with Student Monitor data. Student Monitor also tracks the number of books students are buying; that number has remained consistent over time which indicates students are not buying fewer, more expensive books," Schroeder added. "Ironically, among PIRG's demands are business changes that would actually raise the prices students pay for textbooks. PIRG criticizes the selling of textbooks in poorer overseas markets for lower prices than in the U.S. In reality, this is a way for publishers to recoup some of their investment in a book and hold down the prices in the United States. Overseas sales, although a small fraction of U.S. sales, allow publishers to spread their costs across a greater print run, containing U.S. edition costs," she said. "PIRG is also demanding that publishers end their practice of selling texts and supplemental learning materials in a single package. PIRG has not acknowledged that publishers do offer these items a la carte and that when they are packaged together there is a considerable cost savings to the student," Schroeder said. "PIRG has chosen to ignore or attack independent research on the issue. Zogby International, for example, did a nationwide survey of college faculty in December. Zogby is recognized worldwide for the quality of its work but PIRG has demeaned its findings because they are different from those put together by PIRG's student volunteers. We've offered PIRG, in writing, access to Zogby's statisticians and analysts," she said. "We are hopeful that our meeting will be the basis of an ongoing dialogue that will lead to better understanding and solutions that will refocus discussions where they need to be, on educating students," Schroeder concluded. 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 commercial book publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and nonprofit publishers, university presses, and scholarly societies. For more information, please visit http://www.publishers.org/.
SOURCE Association of American Publishers