If You Think Custom Textbooks Are Good For Students, Think Again

by Jed Davis

Textbooks costs, which have far outpaced the cost of inflation in the previous decade, are a longstanding problem among college students. The textbook industry has developed increasingly sophisticated ways to extract profit from their products. The result is a new problem for students, who are becoming more incensed due to the increased “customization” of textbooks that are practically impossible to rent or resell.

Some professors are requiring that students use custom textbooks put together by the professor themselves. Well-known textbook publishers are allowing professors the option to select various chapters from a larger textbook. Those books are then published for that individual professor and class. These tailored books can typically only be bought through the campus bookstore, unless specially ordered by local textbook stores.

bookStudents cannot rent them through commonly used online textbook rental companies, such as, or local textbook stores. Although the printed copies make selling and renting books a problem, some companies that publish custom books offer online editions, which are sometimes cheaper.

Because the books are unique to the class and professor, customized books are nearly impossible to rent or resell.

“I don’t like it at all,” Tracy Namadim, sophomore international business

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2 Comments for “If You Think Custom Textbooks Are Good For Students, Think Again”

  1. i have to write an english paper on this exact topic. i actually picked it. my school does the custom edition books but they allow us to resell them back to the bookstore or to future students. They used custom edition textbooks as a way to lock in the book for 5 years so they dont have to deal with getting a new edition every bloody semester.

  2. Hi Jed,

    Not all custom books are created equal. While I agree that books that are “custom” because there are minor changes to them are not particularly of value to students, services like ours, through which a professor can combine any number of multiple books into one can and do save students money. Although they may be more difficult to sell back, they also cost considerably less up front.

    I encourage you to poke around our website at and perhaps even put together a mock book to get a sense of the pricing. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

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