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New California Law Aims to Save Students Money On Textbooks

University of Illinois Library / Flickr

University of Illinois Library / Flickr

As the school year kicks off, college students across California are spending hundreds of dollars — and in some cases more — on textbooks. Now, a new law hopes to curb those costs.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2385 in late August, which urges textbook publishers to post on their websites detailed descriptions of how new editions differ from previous ones, including changes to text, illustrations, statistics and graphs.

Publishers, however, are not required to comply with the law.  

Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo authored the bill. He called it a pilot program that could be a model for future regulation.

“It’s really a transparency bill that I think will have the effect of holding down some price increases by holding [publishers] accountable and giving students a little more information about whether they really need to buy that new edition of an extensive textbook,” Cunningham told Capital Public Radio.

Cunningham said big textbook publishers pushed back against the bill. As a result, the bill was softened.

A report from The College Board found the average student budgets more than $1,200 a year for textbooks and supplies.

Sacramento State University junior Alejandra Rodarte said she only buys the books for her major, which she knows she will reuse.

“I understand books have a certain price to them,” Rodarte said. “But overly spending on a book you’re only going to use for one semester for a class you only need for one semester is just too much.”

The new law takes effect in January.

Sami Soto

PolitiFact California Intern

Sami Soto is PolitiFact California's Summer 2018 intern. This fall, Sami will be a senior at Sacramento State University, where she is a journalism and government major.   Read Full Bio 

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