Skip to main content
BGSU University Libraries

Textbook Affordability: A Guide for Faculty: Home

This guide is designed to help faculty understand the issues surrounding textbook prices.

Learn More

These links are to studies and reports produced by university systems around the U.S. and the U.S. government.

Multiple Points of View

Many stakeholders, each with an individual agenda, are involved with textbook pricing. Check these links to get a full understanding of the issues.

The Costs of College Textbooks

In a 2007 report, the U.S. Department of Education stated, "Nearly all the components of college expenses outpaced the CPI [Consumer Price Index] from 1987 to 2004 for both two-year and four-year public colleges. Although tuition and fees dominated the growth in expenses, textbook expenses rose more quickly than every other component at two-year public colleges, and every component but room and board at four-year public colleges. Textbook expenses rose far more rapidly than the prices of other commodities nationwide: 107% at two-year public colleges and 109% at four-year public colleges, compared to 65% for the CPI."

Also, a 2005 report from the General Accounting Office stated, "The average estimated cost of books and supplies per first-time, full-time student per academic year 2003-2004 was $898 at 4-year public institutions."

What Faculty Can Do to Keep Textbooks Affordable

  • Make selections as early as possible.
  • Work with the University Bookstore to identify the true cost of a textbook to students and other cost-saving strategies such as:
    • Selecting a lower-cost electronic version of a textbook.
    • Avoiding a textbook that is bundled if you do not require the entire bundle for the course.
    • Considering the University Bookstore's textbook options.
  • When possible, allow multiple editions of a textbook to be used.
  • If you have an extra copy of the textbook, place it on course reserves in the University Libraries.
  • Use alternatives to a traditional textbook.
    • Consider using an e-book through the University Libraries.
    • Work with your librarian to identify alternative essays, articles, and learning objects already available in the library or online, including open access textbooks.

What Students Can Do to Control Their Textbook Costs

  • Shop around, but understand the return policies before purchasing textbooks and save your sales receipts. Be careful to buy the right "version" of the textbook. Do you need software that comes with it? If you buy online, can you return it without paying shipping? Can you get a refund on the shipping charges you already paid?
  • Go to the first day of class and make sure the professor is using all of the textbooks.
  • Buy used textbooks if possible.
  • Check the Ohio Textbook HQ for digital textbooks at a discounted price.
  • Check if your textbook is available on the University Bookstore textbook rental program.
  • Encourage your professor to place a copy of the textbook on University Libraries reserve, or to work with the University Bookstore's textbook rental program.
  • If practical, share books with classmates.
  • Sometimes textbooks are available from the University Libraries. Follow this guide to learn how to find textbooks in the Libraries and on the freely available web.