Lt. Gov. Quinn pushes his College Textbook Initiative 2005
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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
[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:
- Requiring stores that sell college textbooks to make
"unbundled" books available for purchase, so students may buy
materials a la carte.
- Providing a sales tax exemption for college textbooks.
- 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.
- Urging faculty to consider cost when assigning textbooks for
- Urging students to participate in textbook swapping or
[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]
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