The purpose of the Textbook Affordability Project (TAP) is to promote awareness of textbook affordability issues, and to create solutions that ensure all students have access to course materials that are affordable, up-to-date, and satisfy academic needs. In the 2012-2013 school year, students at four-year public colleges like the University of South Florida spent an average of $1,200 on textbooks, according to collegeboard.com. College textbook prices are at an all-time high and are being driven by an unchallenged market with an imbalance of power held by the textbook publishers. Five textbook publishers are responsible for 80% of the textbooks within the $8 billion publishing industry. When there is limited competition, the publishers can charge whatever they want at the expense of students and their families. In addition, publishers issue new editions every year or two, even with minor changes, thus eradicating the more affordable used textbook market.
A recent survey of USF professors has shown that while 78% are aware of high textbook costs, only 35% consider cost when selecting books for their courses.
TAP provides informative, effective and active solutions to the rising cost of textbooks, such as electronic textbooks, and textbooks on reserve at the library. To learn more about current textbook affordability initiatives and future directions for the TAP project, read the TAP Impact Brief.
TAP has 4 components:
- Website and Social Media – Tap.usf.edu and Facebook page.
- Ebooks for the Classroom + – making electronic books and textbooks available to students at no cost, with no time limitations. The USF Libraries will purchase electronic versions of books if they are available in that format, at the request of instructors.
- Open Access Textbooks – open educational resources freely accessible to all, without restriction.
- Textbooks on Reserve-The USF Library holds reserves for textbooks and other materials required for students to complete their coursework. These items are either gathered from the USF Library collection, on loan from instructors, or donated by the publisher at the request of the USF TAP project to offset the high cost of textbooks.
TAP in the News
The USF Oracle newspaper wrote an article about the high costs of textbooks and the financial burden it places on students. In addition, it details steps that the university has taken to help students with these costs, including the Textbook Affordability Project. The article contains several quotations from interviewed USF students and from Monica Metz-Wiseman, the former head of the Textbook Affordability Project.
An article written by Alex Wukman that features TAP and examines topics such as the rise of student activists for textbook affordability, moving beyond the traditional textbook, economics in the textbook market, start-up companies and their effect on textbook publishers, and the issue of digital rights management.
An article written by the Library Journal about the Internet2/EDUCAUSE etextbook pilot currently being conducted at the University of South Florida. The pilot is one of the many projects under the TAP program for making textbooks more affordable for students.