Reining in textbook costs

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) of April 25, p. D2, reported on state and federal lawmakers coming to the aid of college students against high textbook prices, as some books now cost over $100. The article cited laws enacted in Virginia (Chapter 561, 2006 Session, pdf, 16KB, 1p., from the Virginia General Assembly) and Washington (Chapter 81, Laws of 2006, pdf, 12KB, 3p., from the Washington Legislature) to make textbooks more affordable.
The Virginia law directs public universities to adopt textbook guidelines, including urging professors to be aware of book prices and discouraging them from switching to newer, more expensive texts that don't differ substantially from the older ones.
The Washington law orders state universities to promote textbook-buyback programs and to give students the option of buying books without additonal materials such as workbooks and CD-ROMs.
In Congress, the College Access and Oppportunity Act of 2006 (HR 609, pdf, 720KB, 390p., from GPO), §930, encourages publishers and college bookstores to cooperate with faculty and to implement options "to address textbook affordability."

Digital technology may also help in bringing book costs down. The Washington Post (WP) on April 23 reported on e-books where titles can be downloaded to readers that mimic paper pages, like iPods for books. They "could change the landscape of how books are both purchased and read."

See earlier FR post, Supplements raise textbook prices



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