On top of tuition, room, alcohol, board, and alcohol, one of the big costs of going to college is paying for your own personal library of expensive textbooks, whether they're digital or physical. Californian students can look forward to a bit of a break however, now that the state has set up the first online repository for open source tomes of knowledge.

Legislation recently signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown will give students access to free digital versions of 50 textbooks required for lower-division courses at the University of California, California State University and in California Community College systems. Bookworms who want physical books (and a workout on the way to class) can shell out $20 for a real copy.

The hope is that the free books will be available by the time the 2013-2014 school year rolls around. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), who wrote the bills, hopes it will eliminate some of the tough choices students have to make. "Many students are paying more than $1,000 every year on their textbooks," he said in statement regarding the bills. "Sometimes [they have] to choose between buying the books they need or paying for food and other living expenses."

Meanwhile, students elsewhere can watch in envy, and hope this catches on. And those of use who've already graduated college can mumble angry stories that involve the phrases "back in my day" and "uphill both ways." [The LA Times via The Atlantic]

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