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States Seek to Dampen Text Book Sticker Shock

Returning College Students May Get Some Pocketbook Protection at Campus Bookstores

by Pauline Vu, Staff Writer

College students across the country are experiencing sticker shock at their bookstores. At the University of Maryland, a new Understanding Business book sells for $139. At the University of North Carolina, Tar Heels could shell out $153.35 for Principles of Economics. And at the University of Wisconsin, Chemistry and Chemical Reactivity goes for $109.90 – used.

But relief may be on the way as states and university officials move to lower the cost of college textbooks by taking aim at some publisher and faculty practices blamed for raising prices.

This year – when students at four-year public universities spent an average of $942 on books and supplies, the College Board reported – there were 86 bills in 27 states that dealt with textbook affordability, according to the National Association of College Stores (NACS).

Some of the bills proposed direct relief through sales-tax exemptions or credits and deductions, but the seven states that enacted laws – Arkansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington – largely targeted the behavior of publishers and college faculty. They follow the lead of Connecticut and Virginia, which in the last two years passed bills to cut textbook costs.

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