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Millions of American students are struggling to find affordable textbooks online.
A new study by the nonprofit group The Textbook Association found that more than 6.7 million students were unable to find the textbooks they need for a class this year because the online marketplace has become a black hole for students.
That number, according to The Textbooks Association, is the most in more than 10 years, surpassing the 6.5 million students who enrolled in classes in 2018.
The study, based on interviews with more than 100 textbook publishers, found that online textbook prices are increasing and are outpacing the price of textbooks in the classroom.
“There’s this misconception that we’re selling books,” said Steve Fink, the executive director of The Textitions Association.
“We’re selling the textbooks that are being used in our schools.”
The group has spent months working to combat this problem by offering free textbook classes to students who cannot find the books they need online.
“When we look at textbook prices, we can say, ‘This is what you can buy online, and this is what is going to be cheaper,'” Fink said.
In the past year, The Textition Association has provided free textbooks to more than 7,000 students who can’t find textbooks online, including students in grades 6 through 12.
Many of those students can still find online textbook classes that they could pay for.
A large percentage of students who are unable to purchase a textbook because they can’t access the online textbook marketplace said they had to turn to other online resources such as Amazon.com, which has been the most popular source of cheap textbooks for many years.
But online textbook pricing is growing fast, with a median price of $2.95 on Amazon, compared with $2 for textbooks on Barnes & Noble.
While that’s not necessarily a huge jump from the $3.95 price of the textbook, Fink called the rise “not good for students.”
Students are frustrated, he said, because the textbook industry has been in decline for years and the price is too high.
Fink believes that the textbook market is “getting out of control,” with the average price of a textbook on Amazon now more than double that of the price on Barnes and Noble.
“The industry is going through a transition,” Fink told ABC News.
“It’s getting out of hand, and it’s getting to the point where they can no longer compete.”
Fink added that the industry needs to rethink textbook pricing.
“This is a time when we need to get serious about what we’re doing, and how we’re going to change the way the industry works,” he said.
Finks proposal is not new.
Last year, the Association also proposed a $10 million pilot program for online textbook purchases, but the proposal was not passed by Congress.
Finking believes that textbook pricing can be addressed by a $20 million initiative, called The Learning Network.
It would offer free online textbook class, a free online teacher training program and a free, online textbooks rental service that would allow students to borrow textbooks.
But the initiative would not include an option to purchase textbooks for students who pay more than $40 for a textbook.
“Online textbook prices have risen significantly in recent years, but we’ve seen that this has come at a cost to students,” Finks said.
“Students are paying more for textbooks and we have to make sure that students are getting a good education for their money.”
Finks also said that textbook prices in the U.S. are higher than those in other countries.
“I think we’re really in a different world than we’re used to,” Finkle said.
But he said that in some cases, the textbook companies are being more generous.
“For example, Amazon recently offered free textbooks for a month for anyone who had purchased a textbook online, which was a huge hit,” he explained.
“In some cases that was a $30 discount, and that’s a really big deal.
If Amazon had offered that discount for students, that would have been great news.”