OTTAWA, Sept. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - As students return to class, costs weigh
heavy on the minds of many. Tuition and rent may be the most prominent
costs for students, but with a term's worth of textbooks often costing
as much as a month's rent, the Canadian Alliance of Student
Associations (CASA) and Campus Stores Canada (CSC) think it is
important to highlight easy ways that government can reduce costs for
students, including amending Canada's Book Importation Regulations.
Few people are aware of how great a barrier their cost of learning
materials can be. The Canadian Roundtable on Academic Materials
recently reported that prices had increased by 280% in a fifteen-year
period. Texts are essential part of a post-secondary education, and
students have little flexibility in what books they buy.
"The rise in book costs have vastly outstripped inflation, so we are
confident there are more than market forces at play in these
increases," said Jonathan Champagne, National Director of the Canadian
Alliance of Student Associations.
One example of this is the artificial inflation of foreign book prices
by government regulation. Since 1998, the Copyright Act has allowed publishers to establish Canadian import monopolies on books
by authors from around the world. These exclusive distributors can in
turn add an additional 10 or 15% to the price of a book. If
distributors do not charge more than this, the Copyright Act makes it a violation for individual bookstores to purchase from foreign
"This extra 10-15% surcharge amounts to a "private tax," collected from
the pockets of Canadian consumers and kept in the bank accounts of
publishers," said Chris Tabor, manager of the Queen's University
Bookstore and spokesperson for CSC. "This private tax costs Canadian
students an extra $25 million a year and offers no policy benefit to
the Canadian public. With the stroke of a pen, government could put
millions back in the wallets of students without spending a penny from
the public purse."
"This private tax has a particular effect on textbooks," continued
Champagne. "an extra dollar on a novel may not be a big deal, but on a
$200 textbook, this can mean a $30 difference. That has a real impact
Certainly, university and college students are always looking for ways
to reduce costs on learning materials. Used books are perennial
favourites for thrifty students, and book rentals and e-books are
becoming increasingly available. However, removing this private tax
would provide immediate financial relief for students. In fact, doing
so was identified as a way of lowering Canadian retail prices in a
study by the Senate Standing Committee on National Finance. The
Department of Canadian Heritage is currently considering the Senate
"We support elimination of this private tax that is passed on to
students," said Champagne. "Given how easy it is to change regulations,
there's no reason why Canadian students should continue to be asked to
pay more for the same book than their colleagues in other countries,"
The Senate study on pricing is available at bit.ly/senatestudy. The section on book importation begins at page 53.
Campus Stores Canada is the national trade association that represents
institutionally owned and operated campus bookstores, and has almost
100 member stores and more than 150 vendor and supplier associates
across Canada. CASA is an alliance of student associations and student
unions from across Canada. It has 24 member organizations and
represents over 300,000 students nationwide.
SOURCE: Campus Stores Canada
For further information:
or to arrange interviews:
For Campus Stores Canada:
Michael Powell (613) 233-8906 (office)
(613) 797-7313 (mobile)
Government Relations Officer