Schools spend much more money on computer-based resources than on books, an analysis suggests.
Teachers increasingly use ICT across the curriculum
Primary schools spent £70m on books in 2004-05 and secondary schools £80m, whereas all schools spent £426.3m on ICT resources, not including computers.
The figures, reported by the Times Educational Supplement, also suggest schools spend two and a half times more money on exam fees than on books.
Ministers said numeracy and literacy hours had led to a rise in standards.
The TES analysed how state schools in England spent £27bn from their budgets.
The figure for expenditure on books comes from a survey by the Educational Publishers Council.
The amount spent on ICT (information and communication technology) has risen by more than 50%, according to figures from the Department for Education and Skills.
That covers software and equipment for lessons, such as interactive whiteboards, but not PCs themselves.
Schools also spent £293m on insurance during 2004-05.
And the government figures show that schools spent £197m on exam fees during the same period, a rise of a quarter in two years.
A report by the National Assessment Agency last year estimated that England's exam system cost £610m to run.
One A-level entry can cost £70, and a GNVQ vocational exam, the equivalent to four GCSEs, costs £100.
Sir Mike Tomlinson, whose report in 2004 called for diplomas to replace GCSEs and A-levels, said "serious questions" needed to be asked about the number of exams and the money spent on them.
But he said pupils now had more reading material available to them on the internet, so the amount spent on books may not be cause for alarm.
Expenditure on exams accounts for 0.7% of the entire spending on England's school system.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education and Skills said it was not up to ministers to dictate to schools how to spend their budgets.
He said Education Secretary Ruth Kelly had underlined the commitment to literacy last year when she announced that every baby and young child in England would receive free books in an expansion of the current Bookstart scheme.
"Head teachers should have the freedom to direct resources where needed most - including on books," he said.
He added that books were not the only learning tool available in modern schools, and said government money invested in the ICT infrastructure was also helping to raise standards.