New school year: why do textbooks cost so much? Some saving strategies

anno-scolastico-come risparmiare


The new school year has just begun, and we are already discussing the cost of books.

In fact, a significant increase in the cost of school textbooks has been expected for months. A significant blow for numerous families, already affected by the price increases of recent years.

What’s behind this price increase?

What are the economic mechanisms that produce situations of this type?

Is it possible to save a little?


The reasons for the rise in prices of books

Let’s start by clarifying that the increase in the price of school books for 2023-2024 is real but, to date, remains below inflation.


What is inflation in simple terms?

 Inflation indicates a general increase in prices that does not exclusively concern one item of expenditure. An increase of this type reduces the value of money over time, since fewer goods and services can be purchased with the same amount of money.

In this way the consumer sees his purchasing power decrease, sometimes drastically and in a short time.

The fact that the increase in the cost of books does not exceed inflation shows us a better general picture than what was hypothesized in past months. However, this increase remains a real problem for families, who must support this expense with income that remains stable.

It should also be considered that school books are a “mandatory” expense: families, in fact, have no alternatives.

Furthermore, among the purchases necessary for returning to school, under “books” we must add stationery (notebooks, pens, pencils, diaries), pencil cases, backpacks and transport.

In short, a not exactly rosy picture which can, however, be improved with the right attention to consumption choices.


Why do textbooks always cost more?

First of all, it is important to understand that every price change, more or less unexpected, is often linked not only to supply and demand, but also to numerous variables, internal and external to the reference market.

In this specific case, what determined the increase in the price of school books was certainly the sharp increase in the cost of paper and the cost of energy, which, since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, has also had repercussions on the publishing chain.

In all markets, the increase in the costs of raw materials and production processes affect the final price of the products.


Some saving strategies

As a response to this situation, families can implement some simple strategies to lighten the impact of this essential expense.

To save on books and, at the same time, promote environmental sustainability, one option is undoubtedly to focus on second-hand school textbooks.


Where can you find used textbooks?
The most obvious solution is to turn to flea markets and second-hand bookstores.

Sometimes, however, it is the schools that arrange the exchange of books between students. Other times, teachers help students find the books they need.

A good idea is to find out about the presence, within the institutions, of noticeboards with exchange and sale announcements.

Alternatively, there are many online platforms that offer services for buying and selling used texts.

or stationery, we recommend that you avoid buying everything immediately (often you save money by waiting) and that you wait for the teachers’ instructions, particularly for technical tools, to avoid unnecessary purchases.


 An opportunity to teach children about saving

The need to review one’s expenses, also as a consequence of the cost of school, can become a good “excuse” to teach children the habit of saving.

In the family, we could take advantage of the situation to start thinking with the children about effective money management, perhaps introducing some common sense suggestions. For example, avoid purchasing school supplies that are not strictly necessary, or that are more expensive than normal because they are “fashionable”.

For teenagers, the “lesson” could be linked to the importance of reuse and the circular economy, with a view to zero waste and sustainability.

Generally speaking, even in cases of significant increases on essential items, good family financial management has a positive impact on the ability to cope with large or higher-than-normal expenses.

Since economic habits are learned at home, parents who are aware of the family financial situation and the purchasing power of their salaries will be able to pass on correct behaviors to their children.

Precisely from this perspective, the Museum of Saving aims to promote financial literacy even among the weakest groups, in the belief that acquiring the basic skills for correct management of money and the family budget can create a more balanced society, capable of adapting to the inevitable fluctuations of the economy more easily.



September 27, 2023