A Law for the Students (and their Books)

Filed under: Education - BookRenter Team

If you’re reading this post then you probably know it already – the textbook industry is rapidly changing, and the scales are tipping to the student’s advantage. Recently a new law regarding the way publishers and schools disclose textbook information took effect. It concerns you, so read on. The new Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) has a textbook provision that as of July 1, 2010, is trying to “ensure that students have access to affordable course materials by decreasing costs to students”. {Higher Education Opportunity Act. Sec 133 (a). } Not enough students know about it – that’s partly because all the media fervor was captured by some of the bigger provisions in the HEOA when it was signed in 2008. But now that a new school year brings new course information and new textbooks (and new editions, unfortunately), the HEOA, along with other textbook laws, are getting some coverage. Again – not enough.

The law is only a few pages (read it here if you like), but to save you some time, here’s a quick summary: the most impactful provisions require publishers to tell schools the price at which they’re selling to the University store, as well as the revisions they’ve made. In turn, the school must inform the students on their course schedule which textbooks are most recommended, what forms and prices they’re available in, and what the best ways to get these books are (i.e. rentals, digital formats, used book sites).

Students should start to see their schools providing them with that information through the appropriate channel – most likely an online course catalog. In some cases, we’re starting to see that. The Yale Daily News recently ran an article mentioning Yale’s compliance with the law (your school should do the same if it hasn’t yet). In the end, it’s up to you to demand the information that you’re entitled to by the HEOA. Go out and do it!

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