New Federal Bill Would Reduce Textbook Costs If Passed

From the University Herald:

Two United States senators have introduced legislation this month that would offset rising textbook costs, the Atlantic reported.

Democratic Sens. Al Franken of Minnesota and Dick Durbin of Illinois collaborated on the Affordable College Textbook Act, which would lower book costs by promoting the use of open-source textbooks. As defined by the bill, open books are text that are “licensed under an open license and made freely available online to the public.”

Open educational resources are free, online academic materials that everyone can use, adapt and share. Open-source textbooks are not entirely new.

Rice University in Houston, Texas already offers a dozen textbooks for free online through a program called OpenStax. The university wants to expand the program to 10,000 students, the Atlantic reported. Boundless, an open educational-resources start-up, offers digital textbooks along with an app complete with flash cards and quizzes.

The two senators hope to accelerate the open-source trend.

The Franken/Durbin bill would also set up a competitive grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities in an effort to expand the use of open textbooks in order to achieve savings for students.

The introduction of the bill has been applauded by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), an international alliance of academic and research libraries which works to broaden access to academic knowledge.

“Higher education is calling for solutions to the textbook costs crisis, and this bill provides an answer,” Nicole Allen, Open Educational Resources Program Director for SPARC, said in a statement. “For too many students, the cost of textbooks has become simply unaffordable, even with cost saving measures like renting and used books.  It is time to focus on solutions that deliver meaningful, long-term savings for students, and open educational resources are the most effective path forward.”

According to SPARC, the cost of textbooks has emerged as a significant piece of the college affordability and access debate.  Textbook prices increased 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, and the average student budget for books and supplies has grown to $1,207 per year.

You can read the rest here: http://www.universityherald.com/articles/5865/20131127/new-federal-bill-would-reduce-textbook-costs-if-passed.htm

 

Evolution lessons will stay in Texas biology textbook, board says

By Lisa Maria Garza, Reuters

A panel of experts has rejected concerns by religious conservatives in Texas that a high school biology textbook contained factual errors about evolution and a state board approved the book on Wednesday for use in public schools.
The debate over the Pearson Biology textbook was the latest episode of a lengthy battle by evangelicals in Texas to insert Christian and Biblical teachings into public school textbooks.

Two years ago, conservatives pushed for changes in history textbooks, including one that would have downplayed Thomas Jefferson’s role in American history for his support of the separation of church and state. That effort was unsuccessful.

The second-most populous U.S. state, Texas influences textbook selections for schools nationwide.

In the case of the biology book, an unidentified volunteer reviewer complained to the Texas State Board of Education that it presents evolution as scientific fact rather than a theory, which conflicts with the creation story written in the Book of Genesis in the Bible.

The reviewer concluded that the text, which includes lessons on natural selection and the Earth’s cooling process, are errors that needed to be corrected by publisher Pearson Education, one of the nation’s largest producers of school textbooks and a unit of Pearson Plc.
The opinion caused the board to delay approval of the textbook and appoint a three-member panel of science experts to analyze the book’s lessons and report any factual mistakes.

“The professors didn’t recommend any changes so the book is now approved,” Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Debbie Ratcliffe said in an email. “Schools can purchase it this spring for use in the fall.”

Until the expert panel ruled, Pearson was not able to market its book as approved by the board to school districts in Texas.
The state’s more than 1,000 public school districts are permitted to order their own books and materials, but most follow the state-approved list.

 

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/18/21960023-evolution-lessons-will-stay-in-texas-biology-textbook-board-says

Inside the textbook industry: how the market shapes our learning

Textbooks have a life.

They have fathers, mothers and siblings. They grow and expand, experience midlife crises, and eventually die, often out of sight. There is much to be said about the hidden life of a professor’s best friend, and much yet to be learned.

Just as most books start in the brain of their author, the inception of textbooks is often in a university professor’s mind. Professional writers are a minority in the business, mainly because the amount of work required is very high.

Julia Gordon teaches Calculus III, as well as higher level math classes, at UBC. “To write a good calculus textbook is a tremendous effort,” she said.

Gordon believes the cash prize attraction is at best a background motivation. “People have mainly academic motivations for writing textbooks,” she said, “and I think there are better ways for making money.”

Some people, like James Stewart, author of a bestselling calculus textbookused at UBC, can afford a five-story 18,000-square foot designer house and legitimately claim to have paid for it with the money made from books alone. But far from every author can claim such fame and wealth. Many professors start writing simply because they think they can do better than existing textbooks, or have a different point of view on the subject.

After months or years of labour, the book is sent to editors, as a regular novel would be. The difficulty of getting published is a function of the stability and size of the existing market; an innovative calculus textbook may still have trouble facing the Stewart colossus, for example. If there is room for a new textbook on the market, editors will give it a definite shape, and a new textbook is born.

To know if they will live and prosper, editors send the textbooks to the teachers who select them. In his office, where shelves full of used textbooks cover a whole wall, Enrique Manchón explained the rush that happens at the beginning of the year.

Each year, editors send their own reference textbooks directly to him. “As I am listed as the coordinator, editors usually find me,” said Manchón, a senior Spanish instructor. “Textbooks are coming out all the time, so I’m always assessing the textbooks, and when a new edition comes up, it is a good time for us to review it all and see if we want to consider other textbooks.” If new, interesting content does come up, Manchón passes on the new material and discusses it with other professors.

Among the selection criteria, little place is made for the price. “I try not to think about the price. It is never going to be cheap,” Manchón said. Despite asking for a custom edition that leaves useless parts of the Cómo se Dicetextbook out, the Spanish professor observed that the price only dropped by a small amount.

Instead, for Manchón, the main criterion is academic. “The idea is to find a textbook that fulfills my sense of a pedagogical approach and hopefully one that also is going to be accepted by all” — in other words, one that is comprehensive and practical.

Gordon faces the same challenge in mathematics. “UBC has 1,700 students in first-year calculus,” she said. “It becomes an industry. [The content] has to be fairly standard. It shouldn’t vary that much from professor to professor.”

The textbook acts as a baseline for every teacher and allows post-doctorates, graduate students and senior professors alike to spread uniform knowledge. “You need a solid basis,” Gordon said.

The fate of textbooks

Through administrative channels, the list of textbooks ends up on the UBC Bookstore’s buy list. While some students prefer to shop on the Internet or at the discount textbook shop, a vast majority buy them at the bookstore. Debbie Harvie, managing director of University Community Services (which includes the bookstore), explained the process.

“[The bookstore] will look at last year’s history of sales, at the number of students expected in the class … and then determine what our initial order quantity is.” Old books are also bought from wholesalers, students or other universities that don’t use them.

As for unsold new books, they are returned to the publisher, while some of the used ones can be returned to the wholesaler. If they can’t be handed back, they are put on Amazon. “If the book has no value, we can’t return it [or] can’t sell it, we will donate it to Books for Africa,” said Harvie.

Come the end of the term, students face a choice: to keep or sell the textbook. For Gordon, two factors should be taken into account when facing this decision: family, and future use of a textbook. Your old geography or chemistry textbook could very well find another life in your little brother or sister’s studies; if not, students can sell their books at 50 per cent of their new price if the bookstore has put them on their buy-back list.

As for high-level, specialized books, they might help students who pursue a career where the knowledge they contain will be put to use — as in teaching, for example.

“Those are the books you want to keep and keep referring to,” said Gordon. “Some of my friends kept their old university books and still use them.”

Old habits die hard, and so do the best textbooks.

You can read the rest of the article here: http://ubyssey.ca/culture/the-textbook-industry-378/

Digging for the best textbook prices

Cheaper prices are always better, but sometimes it takes some digging to get the best value when you buy, sell or rent textbooks.

To see the full results of our research, click here.

We compared the EvCC bookstore with Amazon, Chegg.com, half.eBay.com, Half Price Books and Barnes and Noble. Depending on which service you choose, there is some money to be saved.

When the prices of seven popular EvCC textbooks were compared, Amazon came out on top.

Amazon, Chegg.com, half.eBay.com and Barnes and Noble supply students with the ability to buy from the company itself or from an individual, which can save students money since individual sellers tend to be cheaper.

Amazon is suggested over the other services since Amazon has free shipping for students or for an order that is $35 or more, and the option for an eText of a specific book.

You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.clipperonline.info/node/2732

It’s a Textbook Case for These Companies

From www.fool.com:

If you buy college textbooks you may feel the odds are stacked against you with textbook prices rising higher than any other category in the Consumer Price Index.  But this stranglehold on students’ dollar has been loosened by digital alternatives and free content upstarts. How are book related stocks like CHEGG (NYSE: CHGG  Pearson (NYSE:PSO  , and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  faring in a competitive landscape that has changed virtually overnight?

Print textbooks may go the way of the encyclopedia
In an article last year on the “textbook bubble,” economist Dr. Mark Perry wrote of the “open educational resources” trend. He compared the future of the overpriced textbook to that of the encyclopedia, that is, extinct like the dodo bird. Open educational resources refers to companies like Boundless.com which offers free, widely used textbooks in an online format.

Interestingly, Pearson is one of a number of textbook publishers trying to lay Boundless low under a mountain of legal paper (see legal complaint here.). Boundless CEO Ariel Diaz told the Chronicle of Higher Education last year these publishers are, “using litigation to protect an antiquated business model.”

You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/12/06/its-a-textbook-case-for-these-companies.aspx

NC Schools Deal With Funding Cuts For Textbooks

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Schools across North Carolina are dealing with a sharp cut in funding to buy textbooks for students.’

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that state funding for textbook purchases has been reduce by nearly 80 percent over the past four years.

The state provided more than $111 million to buy textbooks during the 2009-10 fiscal year. For the past three years, it’s been about $23 million annually.

School districts are getting about $14 per student for textbooks. That compares with about $67 per student in the 2008-09 fiscal year.

Drew Fairchild with textbook services at the Department of Public Instruction says most of the money for elementary schools goes to buy workbooks, not textbooks.

Fairchild says new books cost between $39 and $86 each.

You can read the article here: http://www.digtriad.com/news/local/article/309509/57/NC-Schools-Deal-With-Funding-Cuts-For-Textbooks

Remember to sell your textbooks for cash to Textbookrental.ca! 

Bookstore to triple number of rentable books

Students who rent their books from the University bookstore will now have almost three times as many books available to rent.

Starting spring semester, more than 80 percent of book titles will be available to rent, while only 30 percent are available now.

“Students always want to know, ‘is it available for rental?’” said Jeff Nelson, director of the University Bookstore. “We can read the disappointment [on their face when we say it isn’t], the more rental books we can provide the better it is for students.”

Renting a book can save students 50 percent or more on average than buying a new or used book, Nelson said.

“You never know when selling back if you’re going to get a good deal or not,” he said. “A lot of students don’t want to take risks.”

Junior Jake Sanchez almost always takes the risk.

“It’s because of the sell back,” he said. “I feel like you get more money back.”

But students like freshman Amber Steiner prefer to rent books because of the money she saves.

“Some books [are] cheaper to rent instead of paying the full price and then trying to sell them,” she said.

Steiner said she thinks the new options will save students a lot of money.

The amount of students renting increases every semester, he said. This semester, 3,800 students rented textbooks and about 6,000 books were rented, Nelson said.

The bookstore is able to offer more titles through a partnership with a new company, Campus Book Rentals.

The company is newer and based in Utah. It offers Sidewalk, a service which uses kiosks to rent books, Nelson said.

Nelson learned about the company a while ago, but before, the company hadn’t worked out how students could pay with different methods through the bookstore.

Now, the company has worked it out and the bookstore has two new kiosks. There will soon be a third in the Union multipurpose room.

You can the read the rest here: http://www.bgnews.com/campus/bookstore-to-triple-number-of-rentable-books/article_aff49c54-6223-11e3-96ec-0019bb2963f4.html

Colorado schools face challenges in transition to digital textbooks

From the Denver Post:

Mesa County parent Elizabeth Chiono received letters from some of her son’s teachers at the beginning of the school year informing her that he would not get textbooks in history and science classes.

The school district instead offers parents a link to online materials, causing the Chionos to have to rush to the school library before tests or to locate another computer whenever the outdated software on their own computer does not allow them to view schoolwork. It’s a growing problem that has complicated the family’s access to educational resources, but Chiono said other families face much more difficult situations.

“I know kids that live in trailers who don’t have any access to computers. They barely have food on the table,” Chiono said. “If you don’t have Internet, that puts your kiddos behind.”

Budget cuts, a shortage of books that meet the state’s academic standards and the proliferation of cheaper online materials that are easy to update have left Colorado school districts in a state of transition. Many are moving away from traditional textbooks and using free online materials but are not yet prepared to fully invest in digital textbooks.

“At this particular time in history, we are really sitting at a crossroads … between technology and textbooks,” said Heather Beck, chief academic officer at Jefferson County Public Schools. “In some ways, it’s easier to find what a teacher needs at their fingertips through technology because the textbooks have not caught up to all of the state standards.”

Mesa County School District officials said students are guaranteed equal access to resources, and those who do not have Internet access can request textbooks, but they may not get the newest information in those books. Leigh Grasso, director of academic achievement, said the district would have to order three sets of books to cover all the new content required under state standards in a subject like middle school science.

“The day and age of having a big, hard, clunky textbook is past. It’s just one resource now,” Grasso said.

Last year, the Obama administration urged schools to speed up the transition to digital textbooks in an effort to make sure every student in the country has an e-textbook by 2017. The transition is supposed to save money over the long haul and offer up-to-date educational resources.

But some school district officials are saying the upfront costs of digital textbooks — new iPads start at about $499 apiece — are prohibitive after years of budget cuts and on the heels of a failed tax measure that would have injected nearly $1 billion into public education in Colorado.
Read more: Colorado schools face challenges in transition to digital textbooks – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_24730836/colorado-schools-face-challenges-transition-digital-textbooks#ixzz2nqLHgH2z

Textbooks printing bill passed by Parliament in Ghana

Parliament last Friday passed a bill to exempt raw materials used for the manufacturing of HIV/AIDS drugs and the printing of text and exercise books from import duties.

The Minister of Finance, in presenting the 2014 Budget, outlined policy measures that the government intended to undertake to promote and increase the printing of textbooks and exercise books, as well as the manufacturing of the HIV/AIDS drugs locally.

It was to give effect to the policy that the Customs and Excise Duties and other Taxes Amendments No 2 Bill was presented to Parliament on November 28, 2013.

Rationale for the Bill

Currently, the importation of text and exercise books into the country attracts zero import duty, while the importation of raw materials for the printing of text and exercise books attracts 20 per cent import duty.

The current regime discriminates against local manufacturers and reduce their competitiveness.

It was, therefore, envisaged that the removal of the tax will bring equity and help to promote the local printing industry.

Regarding the HIV/AIDS drugs, there has been intermittent shortage of drugs and the measure is to address the situation so that persons living with HIV/AIDS will not be adversely affected by the intermittent shortages.

A deputy minister of Finance, Mr Ato Forson moved the motion for the bill to be read for the third time in the House and he was supported by the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Mr James Klutse Avedzi.

Presenting the committee’s report, Mr Avedzi said to prevent the abuse of the new regime and to ensure that the exemptions achieved the intended purposes, the exemption of raw materials for the local manufacture of HIV/AIDS drugs would be done under the supervision of the Ministry of Health.

 You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.spyghana.com/textbooks-printing-bill-passed-parliament/

University of Utah exploring using free, online textbooks

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

For $150, a University of Utah student could buy a few tanks of gas, a couple of weeks’ worth of groceries — or maybe a textbook for an English class.

“[Books] can be a financial burden,” said Rachel Wootten, a geography and political-science major.

The cost of textbooks has risen a staggering 812 percent since 1978, according to an analysis by the American Enterprise Institute. At the U., the average student cost for books and supplies is $1,000 a year, on top of nearly $7,000 a year for in-state tuition.

“The prices are just ridiculous in my opinion,” said Dave Nelson, book manager at the university bookstore. “They’re just nuts, how much they’re going up.”

But a new U. Academic Senate committee wants to do something about it. The group last week voted to explore saving students money by using open-source textbooks — books licensed to be downloaded for free online. Senate president Allyson Mower, a U. librarian, said she’s aiming to cut costs by $500 a year.

“That’s huge,” said Sam Ortiz, president of Associated Students of the University of Utah. “I’m excited just that we’re having the conversation.”

You can readh the rest of the article here: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/57223944-78/textbooks-university-utah-books.html.csp

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