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Textbook Savings Tips: Home

Some tips for students and faculty to help reduce the burden of textbook prices. From the Provost's Textbook Cost Containment Committee.

Federal Textbook Requirements

As of July, 2010, colleges and universities must make efforts to provide enough information about required textbooks that students can make efforts to save money. This will mostly consist of providing enough information to correctly identify the book so that if the student wishes to purchase it somewhere other than the campus bookstore they can do so. Publishers are also required to provide faculty with information so that professors can take price and other options into account when assigning textbooks.

What's an ISBN?

'ISBN' stands for International Standard Book Number, and it is an ID number for a particular edition of a book. Each edition of a book gets a new ISBN number, so, for instance, the paperback and hardback editions have different ISBN's even though the content is identical. Sometimes a "reprint" (identical content, but published in a different year) will also have a separate ISBN.

You can get ISBN numbers for textbooks from the Bookstore, or from your professor. If you cannot get an ISBN number, get the title, author/edition, year or edition number, and publisher. Make sure those all match before purchasing a book. If you have an ISBN number, but cannot find a copy of the book, try searching by title and author, but be sure to check publisher and especially year or edition number. If you have doubts, ask at the Library Reference Desk for help.

What can you do?


  • Be proactive--before the semester starts ask your professor about books and readings and/or check the bookstore site for textbook info.
  • Buy early--you will have the greatest choice and the best used book prices by purchasing your books early.
  • Rent! -- Ask the bookstore about renting your textbook.
  • Check the library--the library doesn't deliberately buy textbooks, but sometimes does have copies.
    • Try the Author/Title search for best results--but be careful of editions and years! (Compare editions at to see if an older edition would do.)
    • Ask your professor about putting a copy "on reserve" at the library.
  • See more textbook savings tips:


  • Ask the publisher for price information when reviewing textbooks.
  • Do you need a bundle? -- If you don't use the workbook/CD/etc., don't make your students buy them.
  • Get your orders to the bookstore as early as possible, so that your students will have the best selection of used books.
  • Could a student use an older edition? -- Specify edition information in your syllabus, maybe even including page/chapter numbers from several editions if feasible. Compare editions at
  • Put a copy of the book on reserve at the library.
  • See more about choosing affordable textbooks