Richmond, Va. —

Parents of college students know that even more than the cost of tuition, a dorm room and a meal plan, it’s the shock of the bill for textbooks the first week of classes that often hurts the most.

The average cost of college textbooks is $700 a year, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

At the University of Virginia, a politics class taught being taught this fall by professor Larry Sabato has seven required texts — three of them written by the professor himself. None of the books cost more than $38 new, but the total cost is $189.40.

Sabato donates three copies of each of the texts used in the class to the reserve reading room at the university library so students can have access to the books needed in the class for free.

Science books can run considerably higher than Sabato’s texts.

At Virginia Commonwealth University, the text for an organic-chemistry class runs $235 new. It is available used for $176.50. Plus, the class has other required materials that cost $94 new.

Those kinds of prices are not unusual for science texts, though in some cases students can use them for more than one semester.

With most full-time students taking three, four or five classes, textbook bills quickly mount.

The costs, often unanticipated for first-time

via With textbook prices high, collegians look for alternatives | Richmond Times-Dispatch.