Apr 082008
Authors: Johnny Hart

Gov. Bill Ritter signed legislation drafted by a CSU student Tuesday that experts say will bring down the cost of textbooks, which have been rising at four times the rate of inflation for nearly two decades.

The bill contains three provisions intended to inject transparency into the textbook industry, which lawmakers and student leaders call a broken market.

Under the measure, publishers will be required to disclose the price of textbooks to teachers in the initial sales conversation, offer unbundling options that don’t include extraneous learning materials like CDs and supplementary publications and disclose revision information for new editions.

“This is a consumer right-to-know bill for students and educators alike,” Ritter said in a press release. “It represents an important step toward transparency and will help students and their families plan their budgets. Textbooks cost students hundreds of dollars a semester, and with two students in college myself, I know that every dollar counts.”

The goal of this legislation is to decrease the price of textbooks and increase the number of choices for students and professors.

Dan Palmer, director of Education for the Associated Students of CSU, said the bill would help students and faculty make informed decisions.

“I think it’s important because the cost of textbooks are so high,” Palmer said.

Katie Gleeson, ASCSU president, hopes this bill will allow for more used textbooks on the market.

“I think this is a huge success for students across Colorado,” Gleeson said.

The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Ron Tupa (D-Boulder) and Rep. John Kefalas (D-Fort Collins). Blake Gibson, CSU student and president of the Associated Students of Colorado, drafted the bill.

“I thought it was really a true honor to watch Gov. Ritter sign the College Textbook Affordability Act,” Gleeson said. “The students went to their lawmakers with a problem and with a solution to that problem.”

Sen. Steve Johnson (R-Fort Collins) said the measure would hold the publishing industry accountable and reduce the price of education.

“I think it puts the publishers on notice that we are concerned about the rising costs of textbooks, and we will be watching them,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who teaches organic chemistry at CSU in the summer, said he had a class ask if they could use a previous edition of their textbook — he granted the request, saving them each about $100.

“I think textbook prices is a sham and a rip-off right now,” Johnson said. “New editions come out every year with inconsequential changes just so they can charge students more.”

Staff writer Johnny Hart can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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