Opening the Book on the Price of Student Reading Lists
Abstract: This paper summarises the findings of a study of textbooks costs reported elsewhere in a journal article and an associated open dataset. The cost of student textbooks is a huge concern in higher education, especially in North America. Less is known about the costs of textbooks in other parts of the world, including in Europe. We address this gap in the knowledge through a case study of one Irish higher education institution, focussing on the cost, accessibility, and licensing of textbooks. We report here on an investigation of textbook prices drawing from an official college course catalogue containing several thousand books. We explain how we sought to determine meta-data of these books including: formats (e-book, PDF) that they are available in, whether they are in the public domain and their commercial prices. We detail the methods we used to estimate textbook costs by using the Google Books API and how we made the code and dataset freely available.