- Textbooks should be produced and priced to be as inexpensive as possible without sacrificing educational value.
- New textbook editions should be produced only when educationally necessary; each book should be kept on the market as long as possible, with preference given to paper or online supplements over a whole new edition.
- Faculty should have the option to purchase textbooks unbundled; whenever a textbook is sold with additional materials, it also should be available without the extra materials.
- Publishers should provide faculty with more information on each book’s price, intended length of time on the market and substantive content differences from previous editions. Faculty want, and have the right to know, how their textbooks choices will affect their students. They should have easy access to information about all of the publisher’s products, low cost formats, options for bundling, and corresponding price information, voluntarily provided at the start of any sales transaction and on desk copies provided by the publisher.
- All textbooks should be available in a genuine low cost edition that contains comparable content in a low cost format. Information about these options should be easily available.
- Faculty should give preference to least cost options when choosing their books.
- There should be many avenues for students to access used books including rental programs, online bookswaps and bookstore buy-back.
There are more reports on this site and I suspect that this report and others will be circulated and placed on similar web sites to the maketextbooksaffordable site. Perhaps more worrying is that some state legislators are jumping on the band wagon and are proposing legislation to limit the ability of publishers to act in their commercial interest. In Minnesota for example, legislators are discussing legislation to regulate publishers and make faculty more accountable, "This is the hidden cost to higher education," said Democratic Rep. Frank Moe, the Minnesota's bill sponsor, who also teaches at Bemidji State University. "Reasonable profit makes sense. But the margins they are making on these textbooks is just absurd." (Lansing State Journal) Governments have looked at this issue before but there are currently more than 12 legislatures that are taking up this issue.
The legislation suggested in Alabama is typical:
The legislation would regulate the use of textbooks in state schools with the goal of keeping the cost of students’ required reading down.It would require that college classes use the same version of a textbook for at least two years “unless there are substantial differences] between the old and new edition," he said.It would also prohibit state college instructors and book-buyers from getting any kind of compensation for their choices, meaning it would become illegal for them to accept incentives and promotional gifts from book publishers. (Tuscaloosa)
On top of these state lead efforts, there is also a federal advisory board that is in the process of collecting information and feedback in a series of meetings around the county. From the Gainesville Sun:
The idea is to prod professors to take advantage of articles, lecture notes, study guides and other materials available for free on the Internet.That suggestion, and several others, were aired during a 3 1/2-hour meeting in Santa Clarita, Calif., where the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance heard from college administrators, textbook publishers and other higher education leaders and advocates.The meeting - the second of three field hearings the panel will hold around the country before it delivers a congressionally requested report in May - didn't produce any consensus. And neither did it answer a question that seemed to be a subtext of the proceedings: Who is to blame for textbooks that cost more than $100?
This recent effort to manage textbook prices goes back to a report from GOA two years ago that, despite its flaws, is now regarded as the bible for all those addressing this issue. Unfortunately, the publishing industry was not well represented in that report and continue to be on the defensive on this issue. This will be monitored closely by all of us in the business.