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H.R. 3512 (110th): College Textbook Affordability and Transparency Act of 2007


The text of the bill below is as of Sep 10, 2007 (Introduced).


I

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 3512

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

September 10, 2007

(for herself, Mr. Wu, Mr. Kagen, Ms. Hooley, and Mr. Scott of Virginia) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor

A BILL

To ensure that college textbooks and supplemental materials are available and affordable.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the College Textbook Affordability and Transparency Act of 2007.

2.

Findings; sense of Congress

(a)

Findings

Congress makes the following findings:

(1)

According to a 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office (in this section referred to as GAO), college textbook costs have risen at twice the rate of inflation.

(2)

According to the GAO report, the cost of textbooks can increase a student’s overall college costs from 8 percent at private institutions to over 72 percent at some public institutions and community colleges.

(3)

According to a report by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, requested by Congress, current grant and scholarship programs which can barely meet the challenge of rising tuition costs are not sufficient to mitigate the costs of college textbooks.

(4)

According to the GAO report, publishers have begun to develop and distribute alternatives to college textbooks in order to provide less expensive materials, but they have had to incorporate the development costs into the prices of domestic textbook sales.

(5)

According to the GAO report, there has not been a sufficient demand for textbook alternatives to offset publishers’ development costs and reduce the overall costs of college textbooks.

(6)

According to the GAO report, publishers have engaged in agreements with overseas distributors to restrict the re-importation of overseas textbooks in the United States, regardless of content similarities, thus restricting students from purchasing lower-cost textbooks from overseas.

(b)

Sense of Congress

It is the sense of Congress that:

(1)

There is not sufficient communication and transparency between all the stakeholders in the textbook market, leading to unnecessary frustrations and misunderstandings about the rising costs of college textbooks.

(2)

The textbook market by its nature puts students at a disadvantage when it comes to affecting the prices of textbooks because it does not include them in the decision-making process for ultimate textbook purchases.

(3)

Students should be fully informed about the costs of textbooks before registering for classes in order to be aware of the full cost of higher education.

(4)

Students should have the ability, whenever possible, to seek out and purchase lower-cost alternatives to textbooks so as to reduce the cost of higher education.

3.

Purpose and intent

The purpose of this Act is to ensure that every student in higher education is offered better and more timely access to affordable course materials by educating and informing faculty, students, administrators, institutions of higher education, bookstores, distributors, and publishers on all aspects of the selection, purchase, sale, and use of the course materials. It is the intent of this Act—

(1)

to have all involved parties work together to identify ways to decrease the cost of college textbooks and supplemental materials for students while protecting the academic freedom of faculty members to select high quality course materials for students;

(2)

that—

(A)

textbook publishers and distributors should work with faculty to understand the cost to students of purchasing faculty selected textbooks, including the disclosure of prices and bundling practices;

(B)

college bookstores should work with faculty to review timelines and processes for ordering and stocking selected textbooks, and disclose textbook costs to faculty and students in a timely manner;

(C)

institutions of higher education should be encouraged to implement numerous options to address textbook affordability; and

(D)

institutions of higher education should work with student organizations to help students understand the factors driving textbook costs and available methods and resources to mitigate the effects of those costs.

4.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

College textbook

The term college textbook means a textbook, or a set of textbooks, used for a course in postsecondary education at an institution of higher education.

(2)

Course schedule

The term course schedule means a listing of the courses or classes offered by an institution of higher education for an academic period.

(3)

Institution of higher education

The term institution of higher education has the meaning given the term in section 102 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1002).

(4)

Publisher

The term publisher means a publisher of college textbooks or supplemental materials involved in or affecting interstate commerce.

(5)

Supplemental material

The term supplemental material means educational material published or produced to accompany a college textbook, including printed materials, computer disks, web site access, and electronically distributed materials.

5.

Publisher requirements

(a)

College textbook pricing information

When a publisher provides a faculty member of an institution of higher education with information regarding a college textbook or supplemental material available, the publisher shall include, with any such information and in writing, the following:

(1)

The price at which the publisher would make the college textbook or supplemental material available to the bookstore on the campus of, or otherwise associated with, such institution of higher education.

(2)

The full history of revisions for the college textbook or supplemental material.

(3)

Whether the college textbook or supplemental material is available in any other format, including paperback and unbound, and the price at which the publisher would make the college textbook or supplemental material in the other format available to the bookstore on the campus of, or otherwise associated with, such institution of higher education.

(b)

Unbundling of textbooks from supplemental materials

A publisher that sells a college textbook and any supplemental material accompanying such college textbook as a single bundled item shall also make available the college textbook and each supplemental material as separate and unbundled items, each separately priced.

6.

Provision of ISBN college textbook information in course schedules

(a)

Internet course schedules

Each institution of higher education that receives Federal assistance, to the maximum extent practicable, shall—

(1)

disclose the International Standard Book Number of required and recommended textbooks, related materials and supplies, including retail price information, for each course listed in the institution’s course schedule used for pre-registration and registration purposes;

(2)

if the International Standard Book Number is not available for the items listed in paragraph (1), the institution shall use the author and title; and

(3)

if the institution determines that the disclosure of the information described in the preceding paragraphs for a course is not practicable, then it should indicate so by placing the designation “To Be Determined” in lieu of the information required under such paragraphs.

(b)

Written course schedules

In the case of an institution of higher education that receives Federal assistance and that does not publish the institution's course schedule for the subsequent academic period on the Internet, the institution of higher education shall include the information required under subsection (a) in any printed version of the institution's course schedule as it is available at the time of the course schedule’s printing.

7.

Availability of information for college textbook sellers

An institution of higher education that receives Federal assistance shall make available, as soon as is practicable, upon the request of any seller of college textbooks (other than a publisher) that meets the requirements established by the institution, the most accurate information available regarding—

(1)

the institution's course schedule for the subsequent academic period; and

(2)

for each course or class offered by the institution for the subsequent academic period—

(A)

the information required by section 6(a) for each college textbook or supplemental material required or recommended for such course or class;

(B)

the number of students enrolled in such course or class; and

(C)

the maximum student enrollment for such course or class.