Saying they could save more than 50 percent off the cost of textbooks, some House Democrats want to give Ohio college students the chance to trade in their piles of expensive books for laptops or other electronic readers, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Supporters of the bill—as well as the Ohio Board of Regents, which says it is neutral on the plan—say the key is convincing university faculty members that digital textbooks can work as well as the paper versions. Individual professors are responsible for choosing the textbooks used in their classes. Under the bill, the regents would have two years to require publishers to offer electronic versions of textbooks. Publishers also would be required to provide textbook formats for students with disabilities. “Our bill will use technology and common sense to lower the cost of textbooks on Ohio’s campuses,” said Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, who is sponsoring the bill with Rep. Matt Patten, D-Strongsville. “We can’t ask students and families to shoulder the unnecessary costs of excessive textbook prices.” Lundy said textbook costs increased an average of 6 percent per year from 1986 to 2006 and have risen 10 percent a year since. By delaying the electronic-materials requirement for two years, “we’ll be giving the publishers more than enough heads-up,” he said…

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staff and wire services reports