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20 October 2009

Average academic book price report re-launched

LISU has now re-launched its Average Prices of Academic Books series, with a single publication covering both UK and USA titles for the academic year July 2008 to June 2009.

At £48.57, the overall price for UK sourced titles in 2008-09 is up by 3.6% over the previous year. Over the five years since 2003-04, UK academic book prices have risen by an average of 16%, in line with the general rate of inflation as measured by the Retail Price Index. USA academic book prices have tended to rise more rapidly than in the UK, with the latest average at $81.34, up by 4.3% from last year, and 21% higher than five years ago.

In recent years, a favourable exchange rate has mitigated the price rises in USA academic books for UK librarians, but this is no longer the case. Using Bank of England figures for the exchange rate on the last day of December to convert prices to sterling gives a sterling equivalent price of £56.58 – an increase of 44% over the year. LISU estimates that academic libraries typically purchase UK and USA titles in the ratio of 2:1. On this basis, the composite average book price for 2008-09 is £51.24; an increase of almost 16% over last year's figure of £44.32, and an increase of 26% over the last five years.

The broad figures, which are based on over 15,000 UK and almost 48,000 US-sourced titles, conceal a wide variation between subjects, both in average prices and rates of increase. The LISU reports give figures for eight broad subject areas, with average UK prices in 2008-09 ranging from £45.64 in humanities to £67.54 in technology subjects. Computer sciences recorded the greatest increase over the year, at 14%, while at the other extreme, biological sciences saw a fall of 8%. In the USA, the subjects with the highest and lowest costs were the same as in the UK, with humanities titles having the lowest average price, at $77.18, and technology the highest, at $129.00. Here, too, computer sciences recorded the greatest increase over the year, at 18%, while at the other extreme, biological sciences saw a fall of 6%.

Data are also given for 64 narrower sub-categories to enable libraries to match price changes with their own collections. The report is available electronically (with the main data tables in Excel for ease of use when preparing library budgets), as well as in print.

Average prices of academic books: July 2008 to June 2009
(print) ISSN 2042-3330; ISBN 978-1-905499-33-0; price £25
(online) ISSN 2042-3349; ISBN 978-1-905499-39-7; price £30+VAT (includes pdf and Excel workbook)
(print and online ordered together: price £40+VAT)

Available from LISU • Loughborough University • Loughborough • Leics • LE11 3TU
Tel: 01509 635680, Fax: 01509 625699, Email: and through TeleOrdering.


Note to Editors

For further information contact
Claire Creaser, Director, LISU, Loughborough University, Loughborough Leics. LE11 3TU. Tel: 01509 635682, email:

About LISU
LISU is a national research and consultancy centre which promotes good management practice in information, cultural and academic services, through publishing appropriate material, providing independent advice and support for advocacy, and for performance evaluation and enhancement. It is based in the Research School of Informatics and the Department of Information Science at Loughborough University.

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