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NACS Gets Involved with the Senator's Bill

Last time, we brought to your attention that Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., has introduced bill (S 945) in the U.S. Senate to regulate textbook price disclosures and posting requirements. To summarize, the bill would require publishers to offer bundled textbook materials in unbundled form, provide the ISBN and price of textbook in the course schedule, and provide the textbook requirement for each class to every bookstore that requests it. All these rules are meant to make textbooks more affordable to students. So who, in the world, would fight this bill?

The least likely organizations: your bookstores. The National Association of College Bookstores (NACS), which has 3,170 collegiate retailer[1] members, "opposes legislation that includes mandates that restrict the sale of faculty adopted course materials, including bundles"[2] Why? The NACS claims that limiting their ability to sell textbook bundles would undermine the ability of their college stores to "support the academic mission of the colleges and universities they serve."[3]

According to the Used Textbook Association (UTA), a group of wholesalers and bookstores that believe in the promotion of used textbooks as an affordable alternative, only 19 percent of students who have used the bundled materials find them useful[4]. Because many bundled materials (i.e. CDs and DVDs) have one-time use codes, students have a hard time reselling the book after they are done since codes are only issued with new books.

The NACS is currently working with Durbin's staff to discuss revisions to the bill. Hopefully, the main benefits of the bill will not be watered down by the NACS's influence.


[1] According to the NACS "Testimony to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance." September 19, 20006: http://www.nacs.org/public/NACSTestimonyACSFA.pdf.

[2] According to the NACS "FAQ on Bundles." April 2006: http://www.nacs.org/common/research/faq_bundles.pdf.

[3] According to the NACS "FAQ on Bundles." April 2006: http://www.nacs.org/common/research/faq_bundles.pdf.

[4] College Store Executive. January 2007: http://www.usedtextbookassociation.org/pdf/UTA_college_store_exec.pdf.

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