Bill would offer free college textbooks online

In this Oct. 22, 2010 photo, student textbooks for rent sit on the shelves at the City College Bookstore in New York. Renting textbooks has been heralded as a new way for college students to save money, but rental programs have had only limited acceptance at the nation's major college and university bookstores. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

May 30, 2012 2:13:47 PM PDT
California would seek to provide college students with free textbooks online under two bills approved by the state Senate.

The bills sought by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg would require the state to put out bids to create the open-source material for the top 50 college classes. It would be free on the Internet and allow students to buy printed copies at a low cost.

Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento, says publishers currently charge "exorbitant" prices for the materials. He says the cheaper alternative would help offset soaring tuition and fees.

The American Publishers Association opposes the bill, saying publishers already have put many textbooks online at lower costs.

SB1052 passed 32-2, while a companion bill, SB1053, passed on a 33-2 vote Wednesday. Both bills go to the Assembly.