January 27, 2015

105 Years of Text Book Cost Inflation

(click image for full size)
I found the attached price list for text books in an old textbook from 1909.    That was 105 years ago.   I thought it was interesting.   Textbooks back then were as little as 25¢   The average of the numbers listed there is $1.17.

Textbooks cost a little bit more today.   I found in an article from Kiplinger that the new textbooks were $72 average last year.   I'm not too confident in that number as it seems lowish to me and I don't' see a source cited but I think $72 isn't unbelievable.  

If textbooks were $1.17 in 1909 and $72 today then that equates to a 4% annual increase rate over 105 years.    The inflation data from CPI only seems to go to 1913 but thats fairly close to 1909 for my purposes so I'll call it good enough.     Inflation from 1913 to 2014 was 3.2% per year cumulative.

4% versus 3.2% doesn't seem like a big difference but over 100 years that matters a lot.    If textbooks had only gone up 3.2% over 105 years then they'd be around $32 today but they're more than double that. 

Note : This is mostly anecdotal information for fun.  I only have one list of prices from one publisher and all the books are in the science field. 


1 comment:

  1. I hated the cost of textbooks, I'm still sitting on some older ones that I've been trying to unload on half.com but it might be a lost cause by now.

    I feel like any actual textbook costs $100+, the only classes that didn't have those costs were humanity classes that required just books (but usually multiple). The worst was when the professor required you to have the newest edition. I swear they were getting kickbacks from the publisher because most "new" editions barely even changed.

    Not to mention many professors say the textbook isn't required, but you still have to do the online homework. You think that you will save money, but the online access code itself costs $80.

    Can you tell that I hate textbooks?


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