New textbook law works to help students save money

By Jake Thielen

With tuition rates expected to rise again, students looking to save some money may receive some help from a new federal law regarding textbooks. 

The new law requires universities to provide detailed textbook information to students, allowing them to use that information to search for less expensive textbooks.

Congress passed the Higher Education Opportunity Act in 2008 and it went into effect on July 1, 2010. The law requires bookstores affiliated with universities to disclose the ISBN, or the author, title, publisher, copyright date and the retail price.

Having the ISBN will allow students to check other online retailers in order to get the best price possible.

The law also encourages schools to share information regarding textbook rentals, used textbooks and buy-back programs that will help students save money.

Debbie Ogg, manager of the OU bookstore, said that her store was already compliant with the new law before July 1.

“The only change we’ve had to do is put the ISBN on the Website,” Ogg said. “All of the information was already on there – the author, the title, the edition, the prices and whether it was available in a package separately used or new.”

Ogg said that the bookstore has added a textbook rental program for selected books that will be available to students in the fall.

“If you go onto our Website and look up your classes, your book will display whether it’s rented, new, used; ISBN, edition, author – any piece of information that you need about your book and class is up for viewing on our Website,” Ogg said.

The law does not apply to bookstores that are not directly affiliated with the university, such as the Textbook Outlet. However, the Textbook Outlet’s website already lists each book’s ISBN, author, price and copyright date.

The law also requires that publishers provide textbook information to faculty before fall registration begins, usually in January or February. With such a long gap in between the time the bookstore receives the information and the start of the semester, Ogg said that there could be some problems with faculty or book changes. However, she said that the bookstore is prepared to deal with any problems that arise.

“If the book does change or the professor changes, we change it in our system and within two days, it’s changed on the Website,” Ogg said.