Durbin warns that students will find a way to avoid paying rising book costs

Durbin warns that students will find a way to avoid paying rising book costs
September 5, 2008

Phil Brozynski, Media Relations Manager
(630) 829-6094

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) warned that textbook publishers may suffer financially much like the music industry if steps are not taken to deal with rising textbook costs at America’s colleges and universities. Production and distribution of pirated sound recordings costs the industry hundreds of millions of dollars annually, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. “The average college student spends about $900 per year on textbooks,” Durbin said at a press conference Friday at Benedictine University. “At the end of four years, textbooks account for 28 percent of the debt students face upon graduation. Five years ago, the No. 1 reason students gave for dropping out at Indiana University was credit card debt. “Students will find a way to deal with rising costs,” Durbin added. “Book publishers better wake up. What happened in the music industry is going to happen in book publishing.” Durbin is the author of the College Textbook Affordability Act, which would help make textbooks costs more manageable by providing students with advance information on prices in course schedules and ensuring faculty have full textbook pricing information when making purchasing decisions. The Act also requires publishers to include information about textbook price, history of revisions and lower-priced alternatives when marketing a book to faculty, and require publishers who bundle course material to offer textbooks and supplemental material (CDs, for example) in unbundled versions. “The practice of bundling is insidious,” Durbin said. “In many cases, it’s all or nothing. The whole package is very expensive. This law requires unbundling.” However, the College Textbook Affordability Act will not go into effect until July 2010. “The book publishing industry is very powerful,” Durbin said. “They have been able to delay implementation of this law.” Meanwhile, Durbin urged faculty to press book publishers for full disclosure of textbook pricing, and for schools to include the cost of textbooks in course descriptions to give students the option to decide whether a course may be too expensive. “I hope this law is a step in the right direction,” Durbin said.


Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 56 undergraduate majors, 16 graduate and four doctorate programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Benedictine University as the seventh fastest-growing campus among private nonprofit master’s universities, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among the top 20 percent of America’s colleges for 2011. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fourth largest in the Chicago area in 2011.