Mark Perry shows that textbook prices have been increasing, a lot.
I don't know why that is. But maybe there's something that profs could do about it.
The publisher's rep drops by your office. She asks which book you will be adopting for your course. She really wants the sale. You say:
"I like your book, but if the students don't buy it and don't read it, it won't do them any good. And whether they buy it depends on the price. If you can ensure the University bookstore sells it at a price of $[X], I will adopt your book. If not, I'm going to see what another publisher can do, before I decide." [Try to pick something sensible for X, or just let X = "reasonable", and see what she comes back with.]
Just trying to make the demand curve a little more elastic. Since each textbook has large fixed costs, and there's relatively free entry, in equilibrium we would end up with a smaller variety of textbooks, but at a lower price. I think that would probably be better than the equilibrium where the principals (students) who choose the quantity of textbooks care about price, while the agents (profs) who choose which textbook don't care about price.
Has anyone modelled this monopolistic competition cum principal-agent problem?