College Textbook Affordability Act Vetoed

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed Senate Bill 832, which
    would have attempted to lower the costs of textbooks by requiring that
    publishers disclose price information to professors at the time of sale.

    “This bill focuses strictly on textbook publisher policies
    and fails to recognize that the affordability of textbooks is a shared
    responsibility among publishers, college bookstores and faculty members,” Schwarzenegger said in his veto message.

    However, when prices are not revealed during sale
    transactions, publishers have the optional tendency to offer more expensive
    products, said Emily Rusch, a California Public Interest Research Group
    advocate.

    The governor instead signed Assembly Bill 1548, which
    requires publishers to disclose the price when asked, rather than during sales
    meetings.

    “A.B. 1548 does nothing to correct the market imbalance,”
    Rusch said. “We hope that over time, the
    governor rethinks his position and reconsiders similar efforts in the future.”

    According to a study conducted by Public Interest Research
    Groups, 77 percent of faculty report that publishers rarely or never report the
    price of a book during sales transactions.
    When professors directly asked for the price during a sales meeting, only
    38 percent of publishers would disclose the price.

    The average student spends about $900 per year on textbooks,
    which equates to nearly 20 percent of tuition and fees at a four-year public
    institution, according to a report from the state PIRGs.


    Students Take Top Rank in Innovation Contest

    A team of UCSD students won first prize and $5,000 in last
    weekend’s Qualcomm Innovator Challenge, envisioning a portable device that
    allows an individual to watch television while doing homework.

    BookPal, designed by David Wong, David Swartz, Andrew Smith
    and Aaron Swartz, also enables an individual to take digital notes, read
    through several textbooks simultaneously and access the Internet. When turned on its side, BookPal can be used
    for typing as if it were a laptop.

    The four freshmen called themselves the Voracious Savants,
    and were one of 17 teams that presented
    designs in the event, which was organized by the Jacobs School of
    Engineering’s Corporate Affiliates Program and Qualcomm.

    Two of the students are mechanical engineering majors, one
    is an electrical engineering major and the fourth student is undeclared.

    Second prize and $3,000 was awarded to another
    all-freshman team named Athena. The four bioengineering majors designed a
    portable electronic device with a screen that rolls up when not in use.

    Greek Fire, a team of five seniors, took third prize and
    $2,000 with a digital clipboard called MediBoard, used to help doctors and
    other health care professionals work together within the same hospital and
    across the world.

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