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Textbook Savings Tips: For Faculty: Tips for Choosing Textbooks

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

When Selecting a Textbook

  • Check with multiple publishers when choosing a new book. Ask about e-book, rental, and bundled/unbundled options. Note: the price quoted by the publisher may not be the price charged in the bookstore.
  • Is there a good reason to use a specific edition? Has material been updated or significantly changed from previous editions? Is a specific version or translation required? Are any supplementary materials included really needed?
  • Does the library have a copy of the book, including older or alternate editions? (If so, some student is likely to try and use it.) You might want to place the library copy or a personal copy on reserve. (The library generally does not deliberately buy books to be used as textbooks.)  
  • Can you coordinate texts in your department? Could a book be used in more than one course? Some publishers may give discounts for multiple books bought at one time, if your department can agree on a set that students can use for several courses. Commonly used books (for instance, books used in several sections of the same course) are also easier for students to sell back to the bookstore.
  • Did you write your textbook (or are you interested in writing one)? Consider publishing it online, especially under a Creative Commons (or similar) license.
  • Do you need a textbook? Could an assembly of readings, videos, etc. work for your class? (Non-textbook materials are harder to design, but allow more flexibility.) Contact your subject librarian, or Rebecca Hedreen, the distance librarian, for help finding online materials suitable for use as textbooks and readings. Check out the Saylor Foundation for what this might look like.
  • Be sure to carefully read Terms of Use and other usage policies for online texts/sites, and ask about Terms of Use for textbook related disks or sites.

Free downloads/Open Access

Many out of copyright books are available for free download (especially literary and historical works.) Some authors are also putting in-copyright texts up for educational use.

Get Help at the Library

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Research Librarian

You may also contact individual librarians via the One-on-one Instruction Request form.

Research & Information Desk
1st Floor, Buley Library
txt: (203) 490-0756