Textbook Bill Sold
The inevitable has come to pass. The Missouri Textbook Transparency Act has become law.
It’s not surprising that the bill passed. I understand that only one senator opposed it as it glided through the General Assembly. I am, however, satisfied to see that its proponents have already begun apologizing for its inadequacies. From the AP article:
The law’s sponsor, Rep. Jake Zimmerman, D-Olivette, said his measure won’t help the price of new textbooks but could give students and their instructors more ways to save money.
I’d like to emphasize again how unlikely it is that any government mandate will positively affect the marketplace for used books. I contend that the combination of the law’s shortcomings and a vibrant online alternative to school bookstores offers virtually no benefits to outweigh the costs of market intervention. I don’t anticipate seeing an increase in textbook success stories for otherwise cash-strapped students during the coming years. More likely, this law will pass into obscurity, where it may or may not create hidden costs for buyers. If nothing else, it can serve as an example of unnecessary regulation in an area that has and will continue to be well-served by market forces.