Foundation Releases New Report: CSU Bookstores Fail to Disclose Over $2 Million Dollars in Textbook Savings to their Students

Aug 22, 2012, 03:00 ET from 20 Million Minds Foundation

Sample survey of 600 upcoming fall courses across California State Universities finds the campus bookstore significantly more expensive than alternatives available through third parties online

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the 20 Million Minds Foundation released a statistical survey that revealed that the cost differential between standard campus bookstores and online alternatives in most cases is over 25 percent costing students over $2 million dollars of savings that could go to defray their escalating cost of higher education.

The analysis involved 604 courses from a variety of CSU campuses comparing prices between the campus bookstore's used books and other online textbook marketplace prices that could be available to colleges students this fall, but rarely are ever promoted by university websites or their bookstores.

For the report, book and price data was recorded from university and bookstore websites and in all cases included the list of books required for each course, in addition to the campus store's used prices for those books.

The courses in the report resulted in savings ranging from $90 to $225 per textbook. With various case studies outlined in the report, the Foundation points to some examples such as California State University, Northridge, where specific courses in Math, Economics, Business, and Astronomy revealed savings of over $200 per textbook, providing students up to 95% savings. At Central Valley schools such as CSU Fresno and CSU Bakersfield students saved up to $175 per book.

"What is lacking in the college textbook marketplace is price transparency for students and an independent objective place where students can compare bookstore prices to a true online marketplace," said Dean Florez, former California State Senator and President of the Twenty Million Minds Foundation. "There is a significant amount of money that students and parents can save this fall semester on textbooks by simply using the cost comparison tool on the 20 Million Minds website."

The 20 Million Minds Foundation's recent release of the custom search engine for students allows users to search for their textbooks by school, course and section/instructor and is now available at The search tool was recently unveiled alongside a giveaway with over $5,000 in scholarships to reward students who compare textbook prices with the tool (regardless of where they buy from) and encourage their fellow students to do the same.

The foundation added this tool after noting that although a few bookstores do enlist price comparison tools on their own websites, a limited number of these comparisons are ever actively marketed to students inside the physical bookstore where the vast majority of transactions occur.

"Some universities may occasionally provide price comparisons on their own websites that undercut their own prices, but those comparisons are hardly objective," said Florez, "prior to this tools' release, most students looking to save money on textbooks by comparing prices online were required to search on shopping websites by book, which can be a complicated process."

20MM built their search engine after interviews with students who told the foundation that they do not search by book at their campus bookstore – they search by course. This 20MM tool merely emulates that same "search by course" process and makes it much easier for students to realize how much they can save.

The textbook search tool on supplied all data for the 604 department courses surveyed in the CSU system sample.  A larger survey of data for nearly 700 campuses nationwide revealed a total of 16,000 courses where students are saving $90 or more per textbook.

A sub-sample of CSU textbook savings from this analysis for just 10 courses from the survey is found in the table below.







MATH 101





SOCI 315




Dominguez Hills

BIO 360




East Bay

STAT 2010





ECON 150









Long Beach

PSY 370




Los Angeles

CHEM 201





ECON 350





MATH 032




***Prices  based on search conducted 8/16/2012. Shipping and taxes not included.***

20 Million Minds is a non-profit organization dedicated to greatly reducing textbook costs. The foundation is currently leveraging leading-edge technologies to create more affordable, engaging and effective educational materials for college students throughout the nation. Visit

CONTACT: Beryl Chong, Communications Director

20 Million Minds Foundation 916.442.9300

SOURCE 20 Million Minds Foundation