Textbook Issues: Economic Pressures and Academic Values

Educational Policies Committee

The rising cost of college textbooks has recently become a topic of intense public debate. It is perceived as a significant barrier to college attendance, and an assortment of legislative remedies has been proposed. This position paper of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges explains that profit is just one of a complex series of interacting issues that determine the ultimate cost of textbooks to students. Educational and ethical issues surrounding the adoption of course material are explored, and a wide variety of interested parties and their concerns are identified. The paper describes current criticisms of the college textbook situation and presents avenues whereby faculty members can help control costs while still preserving academic integrity. Recommendations are made to local academic senates on possible local responses to the issues, including appropriate college-wide guidelines and steps that can be taken by individual faculty members.