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Textbook Industry Statistics & Infograph

Textbook Talk: The Breakdown of Textbooks

The article is at the bottom of the page, take a look at our sweet info graphic of the textbook industry on the way down there. The direct link to the infographic is, feel free to share it around!

Textbooks have served as indispensable learning tools from the onset of early childhood education. The importance of such informational material increases by age, accruing in importance with each AP exam. However, most students spend a large portion of their lives, thumbing through the material rather than thinking about the facts that weigh down their backpacks. Let’s take a look at some national statistics to grasp the bigger picture, buried in between the textbook pages.

Top 10 Textbook Facts

“Get an education so you can have a better life.” Take advantage of all the opportunities I didn’t have at your age.” “Have you done your homework?” Sound familiar? The emphasis of a scholastic education has been burned into our brains the moment we picked up our first copy of “Goodnight Moon.” Sure, education is regarded as paramount in precipitating success, but who knew just how essential textbooks would become to our daily scholastic routine? The data below highlights some interesting textbook finds.

1. Average Number of Books for Each Student (Per Semester)
The overall average number of textbooks from grade levels K-12 is 19.90 books per student for each semester.

2. Average Cost of Textbooks per Each US Student

According to a 2011 NC Public Schools Organizational poll, the average cost of textbooks for American students were as followed:
*Elementary: $44.14 - Math; $31.08 - Reading; $42.61 - Science; $39.38 - Social Studies
*Middle School: $55.63 - Math; $59.89 - Reading; $53.99 - Science; $56.00 - Social Studies
*High School: $66.26. - Math; $61.08 - Reading; $59.72 - Science; $68.30 - Social Studies

3. Average Cost of Books per University Semester
According to a US Department of Education study, the average American student spends between $700 and $1,000 per year on textbooks. This figure continues to rise with inflation and the increasing costs of textbook prices.

4. Average Textbook Weight
Textbooks, at an average, weigh anywhere between two to six pounds (with books increasing by weight the higher the grade). Textbooks that deal with subjects of Science or Math are generally heavier than those teaching languages or history; this is due to the extensive details, charts, special features and illustrations varying by subject.

5. Total Pounds (lbs.) of Textbooks per Student
Depending on subject material, required textbooks can range anywhere between 8-24 pounds accrued, per student!

6. Total Pounds of Textbooks Per Each Semester
The average high school student taking an average four classes per semester (Math, Science, Social Studies and English) can culminate up to 20lbs of textbook weight in their backpack. Yikes!

7. Number of Students Buying Textbooks Online
In a 2012 BookBoon poll, a reported 60% of surveyed American high school students bought their textbooks online and as second-hand.

8. Number of US College Students
Between 2000 and 2010, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds increased from 27.3 million to 30.7 million, an increase of 12%, and the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college rose from 35 percent in 2000 to 41 percent in 2010.

9. Number of Used Books in University Libraries
Surprisingly, used books comprise over 40% of university book stores’ textbook inventory!

10. Price of Used Textbooks in Comparison to Unused Versions
Textbooks are often around 50% or 60% of the price of the newer versions of the same books, with some reduced as low as 30% of the price of the new book

*Textbooks provide important information for all students, spanning all age ranges. When considering purchasing options, there are many advantages in buying used textbooks rather than splurging on new ones. Not only are used textbooks more cost-efficient, but they are also easier to purchase and resell than new ones. Additionally, buying pre-owned textbooks is more environmentally friendly, and offers the opportunity to read previous owners’ marginal notes and highlighted sections. For all you college students preparing for the new semester, check out the following infographic to gain some visual insight into textbook stats.