1,000 Professors from 300 Colleges Declare Preference for Affordable Textbooks

For Immediate Release

PORTLAND, Ore. (April 15, 2008)  One thousand professors from over 300 colleges in all 50 states released a statement today declaring their preference for high-quality, affordable textbooks, including open textbooks, over expensive commercial textbooks.

Open textbooks are complete, reviewed textbooks written by academics that can be used online at no cost and printed for a small cost. What sets them apart from conventional textbooks is their open license, which allows instructors and students flexibility to use, customize and print the textbook. Open textbooks are already used at some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions – including Harvard, Caltech and Yale – and the nation’s largest institutions – including the California community colleges and the Arizona State University system.

“Open textbooks are comparable, affordable and flexible alternatives to traditional expensive textbooks,” said Professor Linda Bisson, Chair of the Enology and Viticulture Department at the University of California, Davis. “Not only do they save students money, but they provide instructors with a high-quality textbook that they can customize to meet their needs.”

Textbooks cost students an average of $900 per year, which is a quarter of tuition at an average four-year public university and nearly three-quarters of tuition at a community college, according to a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“Textbooks can price students out of higher education. With costs rising faster than inflation and tuition, some students are faced with the difficult choice to drop out, take on additional debt, or undercut their own learning by not purchasing textbooks,” said Nicole Allen, Textbooks Advocate for The Student PIRGs.

Research conducted by the Student PIRGs identifies publisher tactics as the primary cause of escalating prices. Bundling textbooks with unnecessary supplements forces students to purchase items they do not need; unnecessary new editions undermine the used book market; and withholding critical price information keeps faculty in the dark.

“As faculty members, our top priority is to choose the textbook that is best for our students. We share concerns about affordability, and face similar frustrations with publisher practices,” said Sandra Schroeder, Chair of the American Federation of Teachers Higher Education Program and Policy Council. “Open textbooks and other affordable options, when appropriate for a course, are a win-win for everyone.”

About the Student PIRGs

The Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs) is a national network of non-profit, non-partisan student advocacy groups that work on public interest issues pertaining to the environment, consumer protection and government reform.

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