Commentaries posted do not necessarily represent the opinion of LDN.
 Any opinions expressed are those of the writers.

Lt. Gov. Quinn pushes his College Textbook Initiative 2005          Send a link to a friend

Note: Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn canceled his visit to Illinois State University today in order to join Gov. Rod Blagojevich in Decatur to talk about high gas prices and the gas price crisis. [Related article]

[AUG. 31, 2005]  SPRINGFIELD -- Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn planned to visit Illinois State University this morning (Wednesday) to promote his College Textbook Initiative 2005. The initiative addresses the growing problem of college textbook price gouging and other practices by the publishing industry, as revealed in separate studies by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the Public Interest Research Group. The lieutenant governor visited three universities last week and was scheduled to visit three more colleges this week to talk about the textbook initiative.

"As students arrive on campuses across Illinois this month and begin purchasing textbooks, they'll experience serious sticker shock," Quinn said. "The cost of higher education is steep enough without having unscrupulous publishers putting Illinois students and their parents in worse debt. Let's close the book on this shameful practice."

The federal study -- conducted at the request of U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. -- found that the cost of books averages from $850 to $896 per year, up 186 percent in the past 20 years and nearly triple the rate of inflation. For students at two-year public institutions, the cost of books accounts for 72 percent of their total education costs. The study also found that the publishing revision cycle is now much shorter -- three to four years -- and that publishers have increasingly "bundled" assigned textbooks with nonessential and often unused supplemental materials such as CDs or workbooks to artificially drive up costs.

"Publishers are charging students a bundle for a $1 CD and some shrink wrap," Quinn said. "Give students the option to buy these materials without costly bells and whistles."

A study by the Public Interest Research Group's Higher Education Project called "Ripoff 101: 2nd Edition" focused on the hidden costs of "bundling," finding that 55 percent of the bundled textbooks were not available to purchase a la carte. The study also found that U.S. students routinely pay more for identical books than students in other nations do.

Quinn's College Textbook Initiative 2005 reforms include:

  1. Requiring stores that sell college textbooks to make "unbundled" books available for purchase, so students may buy materials a la carte.
  2. Providing a sales tax exemption for college textbooks.
  3. Requiring publishers to provide at least one free copy each textbook per 100 students in the class to the college library for use in its reserve collection.
  4. Urging faculty to consider cost when assigning textbooks for their students.
  5. Urging students to participate in textbook swapping or rental programs.

[to top of second column in this article]

"This is a 'textbook example' of price gouging by an industry controlled by a tiny group of publishers," Quinn said. "Students have had little say in the books their professors are assigning, and this OPEC-like industry has responded with exploitive practices. College students in Illinois and across the nation should contact those Big Five publishers which print eight of every 10 books to protest spiraling costs and outrageous anti-consumer practices."

Quinn also urged faculty members to consider cost when assigning textbooks. "Most teachers understand how cash-strapped students feel when they first see their reading list," Quinn said.

The College Textbook Initiative website, set up at, includes sample letters students may sign, a message board for students to share their experiences, and links to the "Ripoff 101: 2nd Edition" and federal Government Accountability Office studies.

Two recent articles on the issue:

[News release from the lieutenant governor's office]

Click here to respond to the editor about this article.

Baker & Son Tree Service

Tree Trimming & Removal
Excellent Service & Cleanup
Free Estimates - Fully Insured

Phone: (217) 735-5066
Cell...: (217) 306-4397


< Recent commentaries

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor