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Textbook Affordability


Textbooks have become a prohibitive cost for students.  According the the US Government Accounting office, in 2003-04 students spent an average of $900 per year on textbooks -- about half the average cost of tuition at 2-year colleges nationwide and 150 percent of the cost of California community college enrollment fees. And prices have continued to rise.  As part of the System Strategic Plan implementation the Chancellor’s Office convened a series of Textbook Summits to investigate the reasons for escalating textbook costs and to promote solutions that are feasible for CA community colleges. Summit participants developed a series of recommendations for improving affordability that were adopted by the Board of Governors in May of 2008. The Chancellor wrote to college presidents informing them of the recommendations and asking for their support in addressing rising textbook costs.

More than 75 individuals from all relevant stakeholder groups participated in the Textbook Summits. Several groups that actively provided input to the Summits included: The Community College Committee of the California Association of College Stores (CACS), the Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), the CCC Student Senate, the CCC Academic Senate, Chief Business Officers, Chief Instructional Officers, Chief Student Services Officers, College Presidents, the California State University, publishers, used textbook market representatives, advocates for persons with disabilities, innovators in utilizing electronic alternatives to textbooks and others. The Board of Governors (BOG) heard presentations on textbook affordability as a result of the Summits at their March 3-4, and approved recommendations at their May 5-6, 2008 meeting

For more information on Chancellor's Office efforts to improve textbook affordability please contact Debra Sheldon at 916.322.2818 or at

Lawmakers in California and nationally have become increasingly concerned about textbook affordability. The 2007-08 legislative session saw the passage of two California laws and one Federal law related to this issue: Assembly Bill (AB) 1548 (Solario) that was supported by textbook publishers; AB 2261 (Ruskin) that addressed the expansion of Open Education Resources (OER) as free textbook alternatives; and HR 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act that includes requirements for college bookstores and publishers related to textbook price transparency.



Current Bills

Legislators in California and accross the nation have also proposed several bills affecting college bookstores and textbooks.

Sample Textbook Adoption Policies

Selected Studies and Reports on Textbook Affordability

These reports were useful in forming the Board of Governors recommendations. They may prove useful to colleges as they address textbook affordability at their campuses.

Bureau of State Audits on Textbook Affordability

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee requested that the Bureau of State Audits (BSA) investigate causes and solutions for rising textbook costs in California's public universities and colleges. BSA published their report in August of 2008.

Open education resources (OER) are learning materials for which copyrights have expired, or that have been released with an intellectual property license that permits their free use or repurposing by others. These resources include items such as complete online courses, course materials, free digital and printed textbooks, streaming video of classroom lectures, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to transmit knowledge that have an impact on teaching and learning. Several prestigious universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rice University, Columbia University, California State University and others have developed online repositories of free, high-quality open education resources taking the open source software movement as a model. The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources (CCCOER), including one-third of the California Community Colleges and many other colleges throughout the country, is working to promote the further development and use of these free educational materials in community colleges.

CCC Open Education Resources Projects

Open Education Resources Legislation and Policies

Open Education Resources Repositories

OER PowerPoint Presentations