College students and their parents for generations have gasped at the prices of the textbooks they have to buy. But the legislature is close to easing some of that pain with the Textbook Transparency Act that will require textbook publishers to provide much more information to faculty members or those who put together the lists of textbooks that students will use.

Senator Kevin Engler of Farmington, the father of four children who have gone through or are going through college, says textbook prices have gone up 186 percent while inflation has risen only 72 percent since 1986. He says some college bookstores bundle textbooks into groups of publications that students have to buy even if they only use one of the books in that bundle.

That bundling of texts into groups is one special target of the bill, which allows bundling, but it also requires that textbooks be sold by themselves if the other items are not needed. Engler says there’s no reason to require students to buy the text and the workbooks together if the only thing the student needs is the workbooks. The bill also requires publishers to let potential text-selectors know how often revised versions of the book have been issued. Supporters of the bill say that will protect students, to some degree, from buying books they cannot sell back to the bookstore at the end of the semester.

Another key provision requires publishers to publicize whether the materials are available electronically, not in standard book form, another requirement that lawmakers think could cut student book costs considerably.

The bill is ready for the House to send it to the Governor–who will have a college kid of his own in another 14 years or so.

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