The Price of Textbooks

While at lunch today, we got to talking about the price of textbooks. Partly because one of the people at the table has written textbooks and partly because a couple of people at the table were talking about the amount they have spent on textbooks for a class this fall.

For the NT Greek class this fall, ONE of the books costs $170.    $170.

When I took Intro. to the NT in the spring, our main textbook cost $100+.

Now I know that in some fields, it is routine for the textbooks to cost a nice chunk of change. (I’m thinking of the hard sciences and those books used in professional programs like law or medicine) However I do think that, on the whole, students are being charged way too much for the books that they are being required to buy. And I know the authors of these textbooks aren’t getting the money.

So……what ways are there for students to save money (besides Amazon)? But beyond that, should we be asking students to pay as much for the books that their teachers are requiring?

One thought on “The Price of Textbooks

  1. “Hi, I’m EBS, and I’m a book addict. Even before seminary, I loved the feel of books in my hands, reading the printed page, delving into ideas…” Over the years I’ve developed several strategies for supporting my habit without breaking the bank. is a website/search engine that will search online sources for the best price for books. I’ve managed to buy an $80 book for $30 – and a $20 book for $.01 (plus s/h, totaling $4.00). There are several sources I’ve used that show up in an addall search: amazon,, ABE books, Alibris… Get book lists from professors well before classes start, to get the best deals.

    Share. If you know someone who has taken the class before, and the books haven’t changed, ask if you can just borrow them for the semester. Because of a quirk in our scheduling, one of my seminary classmates took 2 required classes and 1 elective before I did. With one exception, the books stayed the same when I took the classes a year later. My classmate let me borrow his books – I didn’t spend a penny on books for 3 out of 4 classes in one semester!

    Is the $170 book the only text for the class? If so, that’s pretty close to reasonable costs for one class. The faculty at my seminary generally don’t require books that cost more than $30 each – but tell us to estimate our book costs at $100-150/class, based on new prices.

    Are course books on reserve at your library? If only a chapter or two is required reading, photocopying just what you need may be a lot cheaper than buying the whole book. But I bet you’re already doing that.

    Our faculty make a distinction between “required” and “recommended” texts. Unless a recommended book was one I wanted for other reasons, I never bought a recommended book – only required ones.

    One advantage to being in Chicago – taking advantage of libraries at other ACTS seminaries, where many of the books required for classes can be found. Not a solution for you, but for some of us it makes a big difference.

    (Of course, then there’s the bundle I dropped at the UUA Bookstore at GA… some MFC books and some new ones I just HAD TO HAVE.)

    Good luck!

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