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Digital Option for College Textbooks

September 24, 2009

BelushiCollegeThis afternoon, Florida’s Board of Governors plan to announce an initiative to offer college textbooks in a digital form — for free.

The timing couldn’t be better for Florida students, with tuition costs increasing this year and textbook prices rising at twice the pace of inflation over the past two decades. From the Orlando Sentinel:

Orange Grove Texts Plus, will provide 120 textbook titles free if students go online to view them. Students can download and print the books, or they can buy bound volumes at about half the cost of regular textbooks.

The titles available are a small fraction of the thousands used by professors and students in the state, so it’s unlikely the initiative would make a huge dent in students’ textbook bills. “I don’t think there’s going to be one silver bullet for textbook affordability,” said Frank Brogan, chancellor of the State University System. “This is one tool using the power of technology to access textbooks for free or a marginal cost.”

According to a 2008 report, Florida students pay $117 to $127 per class for textbooks. That adds up to more than $1,200 a year for a full-time university student taking five classes per semester. That’s about a quarter of the cost of the average annual tuition and fees.

This new initiative comes on the heels of a 2008 law sponsored by Rep. Anitere Flores, which would require colleges in Florida to publish lists of required textbooks at least one month before classes start. This would lower costs on used textbooks, since students would have more time to hunt for bargains.

Florida college students to get break on textbook costs [Orlando Sentinel]

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