OBJECTIVES: There is little empirical data reported on retail prices of college textbooks beyond self-reported surveys and no published datasets. Textbooks, as an ancillary cost, can contribute to the overall rising cost of education which can impact upon students' ability to succeed in Higher Education. This study sought to understand more about costs of college textbooks by conducting a systematic collection of several thousand textbooks from faculty readings lists in one Higher Education Institution in Ireland and a retrieval and analysis of the retail prices of a selection of those books. DATA DESCRIPTION: Queries were made of the course catalogue database of a Higher Education Institution in Ireland resulting in generation of records for required and recommended textbooks for 15,414 books from 3030 unique courses for the academic year 2017-2018. This data was cleaned and processed before being used to query Google Books API. The dataset presented here represents the combination of data from the course catalogue and the Google Books API queries and comprises 2940 records of textbooks. Details for each book including title, authors, publisher, ISBN, retail price, ebook format, pdf availability, and public domain availability.