New textbook law reduces financial burden for students

Nick Glunt

Students can now make course decisions based on textbook requirements when they register for classes because of a new transparency law that went into effect July 1.

Also, textbook companies are required to provide more information on the books to teachers.

When selecting and reviewing courses on FlashLine, a new option denoted by a yellow book with the header “Text Book Info” is now visible for students to click on to get information on the textbooks required for the class.

“(The bookstore) worked with the university to get ISBN numbers on the university’s website,” said Mike Marquardt, director of the University Bookstore.

Textbook publishers are now required to provide educators with:

• Prices of textbooks

• Copyright dates of the three previous editions

• A description of content changes

• Whether the text is available in other formats

• The price for those formats

• Prices of bundled and unbundled textbooks

• Prices of textbooks sold as a set

He said the bookstore first heard about the law about a year ago.

According to a press release by the Student Press Law Center, the Higher Education Opportunity Act requires textbook publishers to provide university faculty with detailed information on prices and previous editions of course materials. This is designed to help faculty to choose more affordable books, in a bid to save students some money.

The law also requires university bookstores to provide information on textbook rentals, used textbook sales and textbook buyback programs, according to the press release.

The University Bookstore has been displaying flyers advertising rental services for textbooks, a service that began in the Summer III Session (July 19 to Aug. 21). Approximately 30 percent of textbooks will be available to rent for about half the price.

This new law enables educators to give students cheaper alternatives for their textbooks. For instance, they may choose an older edition of a book if they believe the updates made in newer editions are minor.

Despite these changes, Marquardt said he “doubts very much” the bookstore will lose any money.

Contact administration reporter Nick Glunt at [email protected].