Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn couldn’t do away with students’ pencils and teachers’ dirty looks, but he has done his best to reduce the burden of textbooks weighing down college backpacks, signing Senate Bill 3547 into law in July.
The bill expands the definition of textbooks to include electronic textbooks and technological equipment necessary for their use. The bill also expands the scope of textbook funding sources in Illinois to include electronic textbooks.
The Illinois bill was preceded by the My Open Textbook Act, enacted as part of the Higher Education Act Reauthorization passed by the U.S. Congress in 2008. The act, which went into effect this past July, requires publishers to provide textbook price and revision information before professors order the books as curriculum material; calls for publishers to offer unbundled textbook editions without the other items often required for inclusion, such as study guides and compact discs, which can increase costs by 10 to 15 percent; and forces colleges to provide a list of assigned textbooks to students during course registration.
The cost of college textbooks rose by twice the rate of inflation between 1986 and 2004, according to a 2005 General Accounting Office (GAO) report quoted in a University of Michigan study. The total price increase was 186 percent, on top of a 240 percent increase in tuition over the same period. U.S. students of higher education spend $6 billion each year on college textbooks, and the average student is dinged an estimated $942 annually for textbooks and supplies, according to figures from the National Association of College Stores and College Board, respectively, cited in the UM study.
Bruce Edward Walker ([email protected]) is managing editor of Info Tech & Telecom News.
University of Michigan Study: The Investigation into the Rising Cost of Textbooks:
A Background Study of the Context of Michigan Initiatives With an Eye Toward
Launching a Library-based College Textbook Publishing Program, April 2009; updated January 2010: http://heartland.org/infotech-news.org/article/28355/University_of_Michigan_Study_The_Investigation_into_the_Rising_Cost_of_Textbooks_A_Background_Study_of_the_Context_of_Michigan_Initiatives_with_an_Eye_Toward_Launching_a_Librarybased_College_Textbook_Publishing_Program.html