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Brown signs textbook law

Legislation to develop digital books

Posted: September 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 28, 2012 2:00 a.m.

State legislators are making college textbooks more affordable in a move that was applauded by College of the Canyons officials Thursday.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1052 and SB 1053 into law Thursday. The two Senate bills call for the development of 50 “open-source digital textbooks” that college students can access for either $20 — or no fee at all.

“In the community college system, we like to tell ourselves that we are an open-access system,” said James Glapa-Grossklag, dean of educational technology and learning resources at College of the Canyons.

“However, we’re not really an open-access system if the textbook for that class costs three times the cost of that class,” Glapa-Grossklag said.

Open-source textbooks are digital texts in the form of a PDF file that can be read by any computer and are created by professors who, by and large, are not compensated for their efforts, Glapa-Grossklag said.

The books are made for the express purpose of providing free texts for students.

School officials calculated the savings from open-source textbooks for COC students alone as about $235,000 since the school began participating, Glapa-Grossklag said.

The savings go beyond just paying for books, he said.

“The thing to remember is state aid is given to students based on a financial need, and that state aid is being used to buy expensive textbooks from commercial publishers,” Glapa-Grossklag said. “We’d save the students and the taxpayers tens of thousands, if not millions, over the years.”

College of the Canyons officials have supported the movement for years and encouraged professors to participate, creating books not only for COC students, but also for any colleges in the consortium.

“The high cost of textbooks creates a serious barrier to access for many students,” said COC Assistant Superintendent Barry Gribbons, “and we want to do whatever we can to remove that barrier.”



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