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Price agreements for textbooks reached with four major publishers

• Mar 29, 2018 at 1:00 PM

COLUMBUS — Ohio’s efforts to make higher education more affordable for all students include strategies to reduce the cost of textbooks — and a new price agreement with four major textbook publishers has the potential to save students $39.7 million dollars each year.

The agreement was announced by OhioLINK, a consortium of 120 academic libraries distributed among 91 Ohio colleges and universities, and part of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s OH-TECH consortium.

OhioLINK negotiated and secured statewide wholesale price agreements with major textbook publishers to benefit its member institutions. These agreements will reduce the wholesale price of e-textbooks to participating colleges and retailers by up to 80 percent and courseware by up to 55 percent, with the potential for nearly $40 million in direct annual savings to Ohio’s college students.

“The cost of textbooks has an impact on not only a student’s overall college costs, but also the rate of that student’s success. Knowing that, we have made reducing textbook costs one of our top priorities, and it’s a primary way to make higher education more affordable for all students,” said Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey. “This announcement from OhioLINK has the potential to positively impact thousands of students. In addition, our higher education libraries have been leaders in other affordable learning initiatives such as open educational resources and alt-textbook programs, and OhioLINK is supporting those as well.”

For 25 years, OhioLINK has negotiated significant savings with publishers on behalf of its members, which include more than 85 percent of Ohio Department of Higher Education-accredited, non-profit institutions in the state and 100 percent of its public institutions. These negotiations deliver shared educational content and library materials to students, faculty, and researchers.

The wholesale pricing model was developed to lessen variances in both institutional budgets and institutional readiness to implement inclusive access, a course content solution that gives students access to classroom materials from day one.

“Service to students is our motivation, and making affordable learning easier for institutions is our goal. It’s a price agreement and thus an opportunity for our members; it is not a mandate,” said OhioLINK Executive Director Gwen Evans. “It allows institutions to do what they are already doing with inclusive access, only at a lower price. If they aren’t doing anything with inclusive access yet, having a pre-negotiated and established model is an excellent incentive to get started. OhioLINK set the table; institutions, faculty and students will decide independently whether to join in and when.”

OhioLINK concentrated on publishers with demonstrated cost savings across its 91 higher education institutions, with priority given to high enrollment in lower division courses and a title catalog widely assigned in Ohio. This first round of wholesale price agreements includes four of the “big five” global academic publishers: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson and Macmillan Learning.

“We’re excited to be part of this innovative, statewide initiative that benefits Ohio students by making effective learning materials more accessible and affordable,” said Bill Okun, president of higher education at McGraw-Hill Education. “The OhioLINK model supports our focus on increasing student success, and we hope it will serve as an example for other states.”

State Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), a member and former chair of the House Finance Subcommittee on Higher Education, has championed affordable learning in Ohio and said he supports OhioLINK’s role in expanding the availability of inclusive access to its members.

“I appreciate OhioLINK’s leadership in offering a new inclusive access statewide pricing agreement for college textbooks,” Duffey said. “This competitive market will help lower the cost of textbooks for Ohio’s college students, while ensuring students still have the option to buy books elsewhere if they choose.”

For more information on how to participate, member institutions are asked to contact the publishers directly. The accompanying fact sheet provides individual points of contact as well as answers to common questions on pricing and participation.

“It’s a long-held tenet that if a negotiation doesn’t cover all our members, it’s not a true OhioLINK deal,” Evans said. “We are thrilled that by stepping into the textbook market, we have ensured that the students at all our institutions will see significant cost savings if inclusive access is implemented.”

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