College textbook bill wins final approval

State legislation intended to help college students get a better deal on textbooks won final approval in the Virginia General Assembly Feb. 22.

The bill, sponsored by Del. Glenn Oder, R-Newport News, was in a package of uncontested measures passed by the Senate 40-0. The bill had previously won unanimous approval in the House and now needs only Gov. Mark R. Warner’s signature to become law.

The measure requires public colleges to disclose the titles of required books as soon as the campus bookstore receives the list, giving students enough time to shop online and elsewhere before classes start.

Supporters of the bill said campus bookstores essentially have a monopoly because students often don’t find out what books they will need until the first day of classes, leaving no opportunity for comparative shopping.

“Virginia has taken the first step toward textbook market fairness, and the thousands of students who support this bill should be encouragement enough for Governor Warner to sign it,” said Jesse Ferguson, executive director of Virginia21, an advocacy group for college-age Virginians.

The bill also prohibits professors from receiving kickbacks from publishers for assigning specific books to students.

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