Student purchasing textbooks

Faculty services


The following are strategies faculty can use to help maximize the value of adopted textbooks and support the intent of federal and Maryland textbook affordability legislation.

We now offer a comprehensive price match guarantee program. Your students can shop with confidence knowing that we will match a lower price (subject to program rules). For full information about the price match guarantee, please visit the Price Match Guarantee page.

V: Verify title information

In addition to title, author and current edition; find out:

  • The last three previous copyright dates and if available, publication date
  • The net price as well as the retail price (cost to the students)
  • If it is a bundle, the ISBN of the bundle as well as the ISBN of each component in the bundle (publishers must make materials available as separate and unbundled items, unless custom or integrated)
  • Other available formats that may be less expensive (paperback, loose-leaf, etc.)

Publishers are required to disclose this information. It can be used by faculty in the pre-adoption decision process; by bookstores when researching availability of inventory and to ensure accuracy when posting information to the public; and by students who may want to search the open market for their textbooks.

Need help obtaining this information? Your bookstore staff is happy to assist.

A: Acknowledge changes that might lead to higher costs

If considering a:

  • Different book - what is the difference in cost?
  • New edition - is it needed due to substantial content difference as reported by the publisher?
  • What is the price difference between editions?
  • Is the previous edition available to students via the used book market?
  • If considering a bundle, is all of the supplemental material included in the bundle intended for use in the course?

Maryland law requires faculty to acknowledge a thorough consideration of the financial impact that changing titles or editions may have on students. Asking these questions will help you to evaluate if change is appropriate and necessary.

The less frequently that textbook adoptions change, the greater the opportunity for students to utilize the used book market.

L: Leverage your position as decision-makers

  • Make it clear to publisher reps that price is an important consideration for you.
  • Opt for long-term adoptions, using the same edition of a book for as long as possible. This allows the bookstore to supply used books at a significant savings to students.
  • When practical, allow multiple editions to be used for a course. Inform the bookstore so the old editions can be added to your adoption and then be listed as an option for students and potentially sourced and made available.
  • Work with the bookstore and the publisher when designing and adopting bundles to ensure that they are economically feasible. Consider the impact bundling will have on the student's ability to sell back the text.

Publishers market their course material products directly to faculty. Maryland bookstores are obligated by state law to list and offer for sale only exactly what you select on a requisition. We acquire inventory based directly on your adoptions and students make purchases based on what products faculty members select and mark as required. This places faculty in a key position when it comes to mitigating the high costs of course materials.

U: Utilize your course materials to the maximum possible

  • Explain to students why specific textbooks are chosen for each class and discuss how they fit your course plan.
  • Adopt a textbook as required only if it will be substantively used in the course; otherwise, indicate the text is optional or recommended.
  • If you plan to use only a few chapters of a book, see if the materials can be placed on reserve in the Truxal Library or if permission can be obtained to print your selections via Document Services and then sell the course pack in the bookstore.
  • Obtain feedback from students at the end of the course on how the required materials aided their learning, and use this information in future adoption considerations.

Industry research shows that students relate the value of a textbook to the these factors:

  • The price of the required textbook
  • The extent to which the instructor uses the book.
  • The extent to which assignments are based on the book.
  • The degree to which exams are based on the book.

E: Explore alternatives to traditional textbooks

  • Permit students to use E-Textbooks when available
  • Consider using electronic library access to make course content more current and reduce costs.
  • Create your own content or collaborate with faculty from other institutions to create content and make it available online to students.
  • Learn about free content available through Open Educational Resources

Being open to other forms of content models may lead to innovations that ultimately reduce costs to students.

+: How to have a positive impact on textbook affordability

Submit textbook adoption information to the bookstore by the deadline each semester, but preferably as soon as possible. When the bookstore knows you are reusing a book, it can be bought back from students at the highest market value and recycled as lower cost used book inventory for other students. We can maximize the number of copies we are able to buy from our own students before sourcing from the wholesale market or ordering new from the publisher.

Donate a current copy of your required textbook to the Truxal Library Textbook Reserve. Students may not check these out of the library, but it is a free resource for students who only need limited access to the book. It can also allow students to use the book on a trial basis before they purchase a personal copy.

Short-term reserves are also available for certain books and other materials; consult with a librarian for assistance. Placing an item on reserve instead of adopting it can save your students a lot of money.

Visit the AACC Bookstore's Student Textbook Affordability page to familiarize yourself with helpful information on how students can maximize their textbook dollars; direct your students and colleagues to these and other similar resources.

Read a summary of the College Textbook Competition and Affordability Act of 2009. If you have any questions about the law, contact Steve Pegg, Director of Auxiliary Services and Chair of AACC's Instructional Materials Affordability Committee.