Free digital textbooks offered as Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills

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California college students hit with tuition increases in recent years will get a little financial help after Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday to create a website on which popular textbooks can be downloaded for free.

Twin bills by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) will give students free digital access to 50 core textbooks for lower-division courses offered by the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems. Hard copies of the texts would cost $20.


‘Many students are paying more than $1,000 every year on their textbooks, sometimes having to choose between buying the books they need or paying for food and other living expenses,’ Steinberg said in a recent statement.

Steinberg hopes the first free books will be available by the start of the 2013-2014 school year, said spokesman Mark Hedlund.

Brown signed SB 1052, which provides for the development of digital textbooks and creates the California Open Education Resources Council, made up of faculty members, to develop the list of targeted courses and create and oversee the approval process.

The governor also signed SB 1053, which creates the California Digital Open Source Library
to house the digital open source textbooks and related materials.

The governor met with students as he signed the bills, including a measure requiring the UC and Cal State systems to consult with student representatives before increasing fees in the future and provide them with adequate advance notice of increases. Assemblyman Paul Fong (D-Sunnyvale) authored AB 970.


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento