Bill passed for free digital textbooks

by David Hernandez

Paige Nelson, Photo Editor

Gov. Jerry Brown signed two senate bills on Sept. 27 intended to reduce students’ educational costs. The companion bills, Senate Bills 1052 and 1053, will provide students with free digital access to core textbooks for 50 of the most widely taken lower-division courses offered by the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems.

SB 1052 allows for the development of digital textbooks and creates the California Open Education Resources Council, made of faculty members, to develop a list of targeted courses and to create and take responsibility for the approval process.

SB 1053 creates the California Digital Open Source Library to accommodate the textbooks and related material.

San Diego State has thus far attempted to increase students’ savings by implementing digital course rental programs. According to the Director of Aztec Shops campus stores division Todd Summer, SDSU was the first campus to successfully implement an eTextbook program with CourseSmart, one of the largest providers of e-textbooks and digital course material.

In January 2008, SDSU began offering materials for students to rent through CourseSmart, a company founded by five large, higher education publishers. Now, any title offered through CourseSmart is available for SDSU students in a print version.

“For a number of years, we were CourseSmart’s number one partner,” Summer said. “We were the No. 1 campus in the country in terms of selling digital products to students.”

He said the course material is available through CourseSmart, similar to renting an online textbook, is between 40 to 50 percent off the cost of purchasing a new textbook.

Summer sees no negative side to the bill because it’s aimed to reduce student spending.

“Our mission statement states that we are supposed to enhance the quality and affordability of every student’s educational experience,” Summer said. “So in that regard, if it does do that, it’s a good piece of legislation.”

Social Work freshman Jasmin Zafra commends Gov. Brown for signing the bills.

“As a student, I care a lot about my education, but it is very costly and even one book that I didn’t have to pay for would make a huge difference,” Zafra said.

The first free textbooks are expected to be available by the start of the 2013-14 school year.