Lawmaker Proposes Making College Textbooks More Affordable

JANUARY 15, 2007 - Posted at 7:54 a.m. CST

FAYETTEVILLE - College professors would be making additions to their course textbook lists if a bill offered by a state senator becomes law. But Senator Sue Madison of Fayetteville isn't proposing to dictate what books the professors require students to buy. She just wants the lists to include the prices of the books.

Madison's measure is one of ten she has proposed that she says are intended to make college textbooks more affordable. She says marketing and packaging are inflating the price of books and making it hard on those trying to get a college education. Her bills would regulate the way state-supported institutions can choose textbooks and compete with off-campus stores.

While that seems harmless enough, some academicians say it could backfire. Michael Schaefer, president of the Arkansas chapter of the American Association of University Professors, says there are some ramifications of the bills that haven't been explored.

For example, one of the bill's would restrict the use of ``customized'' books. Those are books that publishers put together for a specific professor or department. Schaefer says there are legitimate uses for customized books, and they sometimes even save students money because professors are able to pick and choose a fraction of what would be included in a huge anthology.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)