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Calif. Senate Passes Digital Textbooks Legislation

Aired 5/30/12 on KPBS News.

The California State Senate has approved a pair of bills intended to make inexpensive digital textbooks for popular courses available to college students. Both measures passed overwhelmingly Wednesday despite textbook industry opposition.

Only two Republicans voted against the bills, and those who spoke during the floor debate praised the measures’ approach. Here’s an exchange between GOP Senator Anthony Cannella and the bills’ author, Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg:

Cannella: “When I first saw this bill, I envisioned state employees getting together and writing calculus books and physics books. But that’s not really what you –

Steinberg: “No.”

Cannella: “–want. You want – you’re gonna go out to bid and let people – anybody, publishers or anybody – have the opportunity to develop these textbooks?”

Steinberg: “That’s right.”

Steinberg’s bills would then set up a state-run open source digital library to house the E-books.

The textbook industry says it’s concerned about state government funding digital textbooks and potentially dictating to faculty that they must use those materials.

The measures next move to the California Assembly.

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