Turner Bill Would Help Make College Textbooks More Affordable

TRENTON � A measure sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner, which would help regulate the ordering and sale of college textbooks was approved today by the Senate Education Committee.

�While it�s no secret that the cost of textbooks is ever-increasing, it is important that schools don�t �break the bank� when choosing required texts for classes,� said Senator Turner, D-Mercer, who chairs the Senate Education Panel. �Technology changes and improves, new scientific findings are made, and those discoveries are among the reasons why textbooks are constantly being updated. Schools bookstores must make sure that the cost they charge for textbooks is reflective of the price they pay to buy them from the publishers. Schools cannot use marked-up book prices to profit off of our students.�

Senator Turner�s bill, S-1263, would establish certain requirements for book publishers and college bookstores for the purchase and sale of required textbooks at New Jersey�s public colleges and universities.

�According to a U.S. Government Accountability Office study, as of 2005, the average cost of books for a full-time Freshman at a four-year, public college was $898, which factors our to roughly one-fourth of tuition and fees, and I�m sure the costs have increased since then. We must ensure that our students get the fairest price possible for these necessary textbooks,� said Senator Turner.

Under the bill, publishers would have to disclose to bookstores the actual price of books, and whether they are available by themselves or as part of a bundled set (including other multimedia like CD-ROMs, CDs, workbooks etc).

�While the other items that come along with bundled book sets can be helpful, they are also partly responsible for the rise in book costs. If books are available without these extra items, they should also be offered at bookstores,� said Senator Turner.

School bookstores would be required to order books as soon possible to ensure that the chosen textbooks are available for that semester, and if so, allow for the sale of used textbooks. The prices that bookstores charge for books would have to match the prices they pay the publisher to acquire the texts for sale, Senator Turner said.

According to the bill, professors would be prohibited from receiving payment for choosing specific textbooks, but they would be permitted to receive a sample copy, instructors� copy and other instructional materials. Professors who author textbooks would be permitted to receive royalties from the sale of their books.

This measure now heads to the full Senate for approval.

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