Wanted: affordable, ‘open’ textbooks

Two bills to make college textbooks affordable are advancing in the California legislature, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The state Senate approved a bill that would seek competitive bids to create an Internet site where students could read textbooks from the 50 most popular classes for free and get print copies for $20 each. A separate measure would create a California Open Source Digital Library to house the textbooks.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said his two bills are needed because it costs an average of $1,000 a year for textbooks purchased by students of the California State University, University of California and California Community Colleges systems.

“We can provide students in all three [college] systems with the highest quality textbooks at a fraction of today’s cost,” Steinberg told his colleagues, who voted 32 to 2 to send SB 1502 and SB 1503 to the Assembly for consideration. Publishers, he charged, have a monopoly that allows them to charge “exorbitant” prices for textbooks.

Under the legislation, California would create an Open Education Resources Council, which would seek competitive bids from publishers, technology firms and nonprofit groups to provide Internet access to the textbooks.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON June 6, 2012

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