Textbook costs may soon be a thing of the past

Textbooks cost students thousands but this may all soon be a thing of the past. (John Liu/ Creative Commons)

Textbooks cost students thousands every year but this may all soon be a thing of the past. (John Liu/ Creative Commons)

Senators Dick Durbin and Al Franken introduced the Affordable College Textbook Act to the Senate last Thursday. This bill would give universities grants that would allow them to create easily accessible textbooks online in hopes to drive down textbook prices.

“One thing is clear,” Durbin said in the press conference. “The traditional publishing market is not providing students the materials they need at a cost they can afford.”

According to Peoria Public Radio students on average spend $1,200 annually on textbooks and the estimated cost of college textbooks has risen 82 percent in the last decade alone.

“At least a dozen schools throughout the country have contacted the University of Illinois about the text or are using it today,” Durban stated in an Oct. 8 press release. “The Affordable College Textbook Act can replicate and build on the successes we’ve already seen in Illinois.”

One of the bill’s sponsors Senator Al Franken stated that the Affordable College Textbook Act will directly help students who are already struggling to pay for college. Other sponsors of the bill include Minnesota Senator Al Franken, Maine Senator Angus King, Texas Congressman Ruben Hinojosa and Colorado Congressman Jared Polis.

The University of Illinois and University of Minnesota have already tested open textbooks online. In 2012, Illinois spent $150,000 in federal funds to publish a book online, and 60,000 people accessed it for free.

The bill could save college students in the U.S. approximately $1 billion each year and it would allow more flexibility to instructors on the material they could teach.

Photo used with a CC BY 2.0 license.