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Affordability: Adoption Best Practices


Anne Arundel Community College is committed to ensuring that textbook adoptions promote a high quality educational experience. AACC is also committed to minimizing the costs of textbooks for its students, which have increased substantially in recent years and have had a significant fiscal impact on students. Faculty should carefully consider the appropriateness of textbooks and other supplemental materials for each course, the cost to students, and factors that determine the cost. The importance of considering costs in textbook adoption decisions was addressed in the State of Maryland's College Textbook Competition and Affordability Act of 2009 (SB 183).


  1. Educational Appropriateness: Textbooks and other supplemental materials assigned for use in coursework serve as important tools in the educational process. Faculty members should select textbooks and other materials that are suitable for the subject matter in a course, that support appropriate pedagogical approaches to teaching within a discipline, and that promote the goal of providing a high quality educational experience.

  2. Textbook Pricing: Publishers are required to provide information on prices of textbooks and supplemental materials, both in bundled and unbundled form, and for both the current edition and previous editions. Publishers are required to include information on substantial content revisions between current and previous editions.

    Publishers are also required to provide information on paperback or other alternative forms for materials and lists of textbooks that are classified as integrated textbooks. This provides the opportunity for faculty to obtain information on a variety of textbook choices. The AACC Bookstore can also provide retail price information (the price students will pay in the bookstore) to faculty. Faculty should take into account price considerations in making textbook decisions.

  3. Early Adoption: In order to ensure that books are available in our store or website on or before the first day of class, please submit your textbook and related course materials adoptions by the following deadlines:

    WinterSeptember 15
    SpringOctober 15
    SummerFebruary 15
    FallMarch 15

    This allows our staff time to research your titles, seek as many used copies as possible (first and foremost from our students), and to work with publishers and suppliers to resolve out-of-stock situations or other problems.

    There is another very important reason to have your textbook orders in on time: you can help save your students money on their textbook purchases! If we have your adoption information prior to finals week and buyback, we can add your titles to our buy list. Students receive up to 50% of the current retail price for their unwanted books, and we can then place the used book stock on our shelves for other students to buy at a reduced price.

  4. Content of New Editions and Consideration of Used Textbooks: Faculty should carefully consider the content of new versus existing editions of textbooks. Repeated use of the same textbook in a course provides opportunities for students to acquire used textbooks, which can often save students significant money. In choosing between a new version and an existing edition, faculty should consider whether content revisions warrant the cost differential that is often associated with using a new edition.

  5. Use of Required Items: Faculty members should ensure that a significant portion of each assigned textbook will be used in the course. If supplemental materials are sold with the textbook (a practice called bundling), faculty members should be aware of the variance in price between the bundled and unbundled items. They should consider whether all parts of the bundle are intended for use in the course. Faculty may ask the bookstore whether it can obtain from the publishers only a subset of the bundled items. [Integrated textbooks are not considered bundled items for purposes of this policy. See definition below, under the 2009 SB183 section.]

  6. Alternative Versions and Approaches: Faculty members may want to consider adopting alternate versions or formats of a textbook or incorporate the use of OERs or other types of non-textbook resources into course instruction wherever feasible or prudent.

    The bookstore is required by law to list course materials from an adoption on our shelf tags directly as we have received them from our faculty. If you wish to allow your students to use an alternative format, such as looseleaf or an e-textbook, in your course, you must also adopt the alternative format.


Faculty textbook orders require departmental approval and should be placed with your department chair or instructional coordinator, or other designated faculty or staff member within your department. The department chair or instructional coordinator will review and compile the adoptions, then send them to the AACC Bookstore.

Please provide as much information as possible: author, title, edition, copyright date, publisher, ISBN, and an estimated quantity (based on estimated enrollment) needed for each course. We strongly encourage you to consider the final retail price when making your textbook selections. If you need assistance in determining retail prices, please contact the AACC Bookstore's manager or one of the textbook department staff.

Please note that an adoption is required to be submitted for each credit course, each semester. This applies even if no course materials are required or only OERs or other online or alternative course materials are required. Please contact your department's adoption point of contact or your designated textbook manager for assistance.

We encourage you to provide us with supply lists for art, allied health, and other similar courses with as much advance notice as is practical. We will happily work with you to provide these supplies in our store so your students have the opportunity to comparison shop for the best possible price, and so that our students who are using financial aid book advances may obtain these materials promptly and directly.

As directed by the provisions of Maryland's 2009 SB183 (College Textbook Competition and Affordability Act) and to ensure compliance with that law, faculty members must indicate an acknowledgement of compliance. A letter regarding the acknowledgement requirement will be distributed with requests for adoption information. Adoptions accepted in electronic format require electronic acknowledgement as a condition of submission.


The State of Maryland's College Textbook Competition and Affordability Act of 2009 has as its purposes to establish practices in higher education institutions in the State in which textbook selection reflects consideration of textbook prices and ways to reduce costs to students, that posts textbook decisions in a timely manner to help students in obtaining assigned books at the least cost, and promotes competition. The statute notes that textbook prices increased by more than twice the increase in overall inflation in the period 1986-2004. Faculty members are required to acknowledge understanding and consideration of the law before selecting a college textbook.

Selected Provisions in the Statute

Best Practices:

Section (1)(C)(3). Each public institution of higher education in the State shall develop and implement a best-practices process for faculty in selecting college textbooks and supplemental material that:

I. ensures early adoption of college textbooks and supplemental material;
II. encourages the maximum usage of used college textbooks and of previous editions of college textbooks, when possible;
III. for undergraduate college textbooks, ensures that the majority of the assigned material will be used in the course unless it would be in the student's financial interest to purchase separate materials; and
IV. ensures that faculty are aware of various outlets for the supply of college textbooks and supplemental material.

Requirements for Publishers:

Section (1)(E)(1). A publisher that sells college textbooks or supplemental material and provides information regarding a college textbook or supplemental material to a faculty member, other adopting entity in charge of selecting course materials, or the administration of an institution of higher education shall disclose with this information, in writing, by paper or electronic means:

I. the price of the college textbook or supplemental material;
II. the title, author, publisher, edition, current and three previous copyright dates, publication date when available, and ISBN of the college textbook and supplemental material, both as bundled and unbundled items;
III. substantial content revisions made between the current edition of the college textbook or supplemental material and the previous edition of the college textbook or supplemental material;
IV. other available formats for the college textbook or supplemental material such as paperback or unbound; and
V. a list of textbooks that are classified as integrated textbooks.

Faculty Acknowledgment:

Section (1)(D)(2). Before selecting a college textbook or supplemental material and before transmitting the selection to a campus bookstore, providing the selection to any other bookstore, or posting the selection on the website of the public institution of higher education, a faculty member shall acknowledge:

I(1). If selecting a different college textbook from a different publisher, the cost of the new selection versus the cost of the previous selection; or
I(2). If selecting a current edition of a college textbook,
A. the differences in substantial content between the current edition of the textbook and the previous edition of the textbook as reported by the publisher under subsection (E) of this section;
B. that the use of the current edition is appropriate due to a material change in substantial content between the current edition and the previous edition;
C. the difference in price between the current edition of the textbook and the previous edition of the textbook; and
D. that the previous edition of the textbook may be available to students at a lower price via the used book market.
II. That an integrated textbook is not subject to subsection (F)(3) of this section; and
III. That supplemental material included in a bundle is intended for use in the course.

Section (1)(E)(2). Faculty members acknowledge having been informed about the disclosures required of publishers under section (1)(E)(1) and the impact that the high cost of college textbooks and supplemental material has on students.

Academic Freedom:

Section (1)(I). This section (referring to all of Section 1 of the statute) may not be construed to supersede the institutional autonomy or academic freedom of faculty members involved in the selection of college textbooks and supplemental material.

Definitions in the Statute:

Section (1)(A).

Supplemental material means educational material developed to accompany a college textbook that is not being used as a component of an integrated textbook. Supplemental material includes printed materials and electronic materials such as computer disks and web access codes.

Bundle means one or more college textbooks or other supplemental material that are packaged together to be sold as course materials for one price.

Integrated textbook means a college textbook that is combined with materials developed by a third party and that, by third-party contractual agreement, may not be offered by publishers separately from the college textbook with which the materials are combined; or other materials that are so interrelated with the content of the college textbook that the separation of the college textbook from the other materials would render the college textbook unusable for its intended purpose.