Textbook bill aims to keep costs down

By Alissa Groeninger

In the March 27 edition of The Daily Illini, the article “Textbook bill aims to keep costs down,” stated that Frank Calabrese is the student body president and member of the Illinois Student Association. The article should have said Calabrese is a senator. The Daily Illini regrets this error.

The following is the story as it appeared in that day’s edition.

Increasing concern over textbook prices led a group of student legislators from Illinois to advocate change in order to help their stressed peers pay less for books.

As a result of their efforts, the Illinois House of Representatives Education Committee unanimously passed a bill aimed to lower textbook prices throughout the state.

The new bill is now being considered by the entire Illinois House of Representatives. If passed in the House, it will then move to the Senate for consideration.

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    “It’s all about affordability and access,” said Frank Calabrese, student body president and member of the Illinois Student Association.

    Representative Naomi Jakobsson sponsored the bill and said lowering textbook prices will help make education more affordable, adding that it is one of her priorities as a representative for the University and Parkland College.

    The House Education Committee and the Illinois Student Association are working to make education more affordable and believe that lower textbook prices will help.

    “If we can help reduce the cost of the textbook, that should certainly help (the price of education) a lot,” she said.

    The bill has two parts, both aimed to keep publishers from taking advantage of students.

    The first part of the bill will force publishers to be honest and upfront with buyers about prices.

    Jakobsson said the House Education Committee is mandating publishers to tell faculty members how much each component in a book package costs. Publishers often throw items into a package, making textbooks more expensive without the buyer realizing it, she said.

    The second part of the bill aims to unbundle textbooks and their supplements, allowing users to purchase books, CDs and other materials separately.

    “Oftentimes you have to buy a CD with a textbook, and the publishers jack up the price (by) $20,” Calabrese said.

    Students should be able to buy supplements separately from books to allow for the use of used materials, Jakobsson said.

    Stress caused by textbook prices has been noticed by Illini Union Bookstore employee Bre’Ann Jones, sophomore in Education.

    “Working here (I’ve noticed) a lot of the textbooks are (priced) extremely high,” she said. “A lot of the times the only reason people buy them is because they need the smallest thing (in the package).”

    The House Education Committee has tried for several years to create and pass this type of bill and Jakobsson said it has made great progress this year.

    According to an Illinois Student Association press release, the group plans to bring a mass of students to lobby the State Legislature on April 9 to advocate the textbook bill.