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A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate seeks to tackle the rising cost of textbooks by giving states an incentive to experiment with open educational resources. The Affordable College Textbook Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Al Franken, Democrats of Illinois and Minnesota, respectively, would create a grant program that would fund the creation of new textbooks -- as long as they are made available for free online.

Durbin previously had parts of a similar bill included in the 2008 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, though those provisions only required publishers and higher education institutions to inform students about the cost of textbooks. 

Dean Florez, president of the 20 Million Minds Foundation, said the bill, coupled with first lady Michelle Obama's new focus on access to higher education, represents "a groundswell for a national discussion for the cost of textbooks." While he expressed some concerns about the bill's chances in the U.S. House of Representatives, Florez said "Durbin’s bill is going straight to the president."