August 1, 2012

Student spending on textbooks has decreased slightly in the past year and since 2008, according to a study by OnCampus Research, a division of the National Association of College Stores.

Students estimate that they spend $655 per year on required course materials, a decrease of 1.79% since last year. Four years ago, students reported they spent $702 annually, meaning they are now spending, on average, 6.69% less.

According to the survey, the prevalence of textbook rental programs could play a significant factor in the spending decrease. Another factor could be the rise of open-access textbooks, which reduce costs by as much as 80%, according to some reports.

Nearly three-fourths of students prefer to rent textbooks rather than buy them, and renting can save between 45% and 66% of the cost of a new book, the OnCampus Research study states.

Despite advocates of textbook rental, there is still a great deal of concern by students about textbook rental, and there are arguments that in the end, it may be cheaper to purchase books than sell them back.

Follow Anna Schumann on Twitter at @ASchumannCMN.

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