Apr 062008
Authors: Calvin Setar

CSU student leaders are participating in a nationwide campaign to get teachers to advocate online resources that make textbooks available to students for free.

The campaign, called Open Textbooks, would create awareness of free textbooks by letting professors and students know about online resources that allow students to download textbooks electronically.

“There are all kinds of new technologies out there that can save students a lot of money,” said Dan Palmer, the Director of Academics for the ASCSU. “Through this campaign we’re looking to raise awareness of other products and ways of distributing textbooks, as opposed to having to go through the five big publishers that essentially have the entire textbook market cornered.”

The five big publishers are of course Harper-Collins, W.W. Norton, Prentice-Hall, Houghton-Mifflin, and McGraw-Hill. The average student spends between $700 and $1,000 a year on textbooks.

With the CSU student population of 26,000, that comes out to about $23.4 million, a figure that is mostly shared by those five major publishers. This is where the Open Textbooks campaign comes in.

It is a network of students and faculty members on college campuses across the nation who are working together to make textbooks available online, free of charge.

“Faculty members from various universities submit textbooks online, and then the students are able to download and view them for free,” said Palmer. “So far the campaign has really just been about raising awareness and getting faculty members to sign a statement saying they’ll consider downloadable textbooks as an option.” a textbook he wrote to be put onto a free download site.

Palmer said there are also several online sites, such as Wikipedia, where faculty members write a textbook on the Internet, completely forgoing printed material.

“The only problem so far, is the lack of knowledge on the part of students and teachers across the nation,” Palmer said. “We just really need the people who publish textbooks to buy in, and the faculty members to keep themselves open and aware of the possibilities new technology offers.”

Palmer said about 700 professors from institutions across the country have supported the campaign so far.

Student leaders’ efforts from last semester to slow the increase in textbook prices, is expected to come to fruition Tuesday when Gov. Bill Ritter is slated to sign the measure.

For more information on the campaign, which ends Tuesday, go to www.Maketextbooksaffordable.org or www.freeloadpress.com.

Staff writer Calvin Setar can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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