On September 27, California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills into law to provide open access textbooks to students in the University of California university system. SB 1052, establishes the California Open Education Resources Council, which will guide the development of textbooks for fifty core college courses.  The second bill, SB 1053, creates the California Digital Open Source Library where the free texts will be housed. The textbooks will be available for free online under a Creative Commons Attribution license.  Students wishing to buy hard copies will be able to do so for around $20.

The bills were introduced by State Senator Darrell Steinberg, and passed the legislature with little opposition.  In a statement, Sen. Steinberg said:  “The current cost of traditional textbooks is so high, some college students are forced to struggle through a required class without the textbook, forced to drop classes or sometimes even drop out of college altogether. There’s absolutely no reason a basic biology, statistics or accounting textbook, for example, should cost $200. The Governor has shown great vision in signing this legislation as a way to help tens of thousands of students and families with the increasing expenses of higher education. Any avenue towards reducing those costs opens more doors for our students, and that in turn continues development of the educated workforce we need to fuel California’s economic engine.”

Timothy Vollmer, TITLE of Creative Commons said in a blog that “This is a massive win for California, and a most welcome example of open policy that aims to leverage open licensing to save money for California families and support the needs of teachers and students. We’ll continue to track this initiative and other Open Education Policies at our OER registry.”

News coverage: