Learning At A Price
State Legislators Fight For Lower Book Costs
Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Updated: Monday, January 18, 2010 16:01
The increasingly steep price of textbooks has university students digging deep into their wallets, but states across the U.S. are passing legislation in hopes of cutting costs.
Connecticut was one of six states that has already signed legislation requiring publishers to inform faculty of the price and revisions of their textbooks, according to a ConnPIRG news release.
California is the latest state to pass the textbook price disclosure bill, also know as the Textbook Affordability Act (TAA). Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and Oklahoma have also passed similar legislation within the last year.
In research conducted by California PIRG, results found that 94 percent of faculty surveyed said that they would choose the less expensive of two equally good books, while only 38 percent of faculty said they were always told the price of a book when they asked a publisher sales representative, according to the press release.
ConnPIRG was very involved in the lobby days before Connecticut signed the TAA two years ago, with their "Make Textbooks Affordable" campaign. During the lobby days of the bill, ConnPIRG sent letters to editors of local newspapers, conducted surveys, ran petitions and visited the state house in Hartford to testify in an extensive effort to pass the textbook legislation.
While the TAA is a step closer to lower textbook costs for students, it does not include anything about the bundling of textbooks, which can often force students to purchase additional, unnecessary material such as CDs and workbooks.
A poll conducted by ConnPIRG that surveyed 400 students found that while 95 percent of students purchase bundled books, only 10 percent use all of the components included in the package.
"The campaign originally wanted the bill to require textbook companies to release textbook prices to professors and also for books to be unbundled," said Elizabeth Hopkinson, a 5th-semester journalism major and ConnPIRG treasurer. "But the bill was stripped down and just required the textbook companies to release the pricing information and did not require for the books be unbundled."
Although the textbook legislation has already been passed, ConnPIRG is still working to ensure that the manufacturers are keeping up with their part of the deal.
"We're still trying to work with the Co-op and professors to make sure that the textbook companies are sticking to the legislation and not making it necessary to have certain things bundled," said 7th-semester classical and ancient Mediterranean studies major and ConnPIRG officer, Jamie Walsh.
ConnPIRG is also trying to establish a board of professors to relay information about how textbook companies are operating and if they are acting in accordance with legislation. Overall, professors are responsive to students' questions on textbooks and are sympathetic to students' price concerns, according to Walsh.
Currently, the Make Textbooks Affordable campaign is continuing to push the two components of bill that did not pass, according to Hopkinson.
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