In a move that some feel is another blow to the big business of traditional publishing, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that will give the California college systems the push they need to not only find open source textbooks for their students’ classes, but will also enable the colleges and universities to develop these materials themselves in order to make student textbooks free.
The two different pieces of legislation had distinct purposes. The first bill, SB 1052, established that the college system will create as many as fifty open source digital textbooks, aimed at mostly the junior college level, giving students the opportunity to have free digital editions or purchase inexpensive print editions if they prefer. The second bill, SB 1053, establishes an open source university for the newly created textbooks, allowing other colleges and universities around the country to also use those materials for free under Creative Commons license. Both bills were introduced by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento.
By targeting these materials to the more mainstream college courses typically found in the first two years of study, a huge financial burden can be taken off of the bulk of university students. Those students who continue their educations and progress to the higher levels of their specific programs will still use more specialized textbooks for their fields of study.
Part of this initiative is aimed at helping to offset the students’ cost as California experienced a recent tuition increase; some estimates in that state put students paying over $1,000 annually for their college textbooks, and the legislation is intended to make college expenses more manageable for more students. The first original open source textbooks to come from this legislation are expected to be available for the 2013-2014 school year.