10 Ways to Reduce Textbook Costs

  1. Take advantage of the open educational resources (OER) directory we have compiled.  OERs are designed to be reused, remixed, and shared, so you can customize your solution.

  2. Use library materials and eReserves. Links to these can be placed in your course’s Canvas shell.
    • Millions of electronic journal articles and thousands of ebooks within the digital library collection are free for students.
    • Put copies of your textbook on course reserves. You determine the checkout period: two hours, 24 hours, or three days.  See Reserve Material for My Course.
    • Suggest materials for library purchase. Librarians have an annual budget to purchase materials for the Library collection to support your courses, and can request trial databases.  Contact your librarian.

  3. Don't purchase Test Packs or Add-ons just for quizzes and tests. These are very costly for students and the test banks can often be imported into Canvas for free. Contact Academic Technology for help with this.

  4. Don't be lured in by publishers' offers to customize a text or lower the cost by offering it as a loose-leaf version, which cannot be resold.  While these appear to be cheaper options, these are simply strategies to sell more new copies and eliminate the used book market.

  5. Use the Announcements in your Canvas course to let students know what materials will be required and point them to our Resources for Students page so they can find the best solutions for their needs and have the texts the first day of class. 

  6. Consider sticking with older versions of texts. Publishers release “new” editions about every three years, which typically cost 12% more than the previous edition. Let the bookstore know you want the older edition or allow students to use any edition.

  7. Rent digital textbooks. The CSU’s Rent Digital Textbooks Program is saving students 60% or more on over 50,000 popular titles.  All the major textbook publishers are participating. The downside: These books are usually a 3-month rental, so may end up costing more than a used copy of a physical text that students can sell back.

  8. Are you using multiple texts but assigning just a portion of each text? Custom publishers such as XanEdu offer faculty the ability to create a custom text including articles, book chapters, websites, and other materials. Custom publishers provide copyright clearance and a running total price as you build your book.

  9. Communicate with the campus bookstore:
    • Submitting course material requests to the bookstore on time allows them to buy back books at the end of the semester and offer a sufficient supply of used books.
    • Let them know if you plan to use a book for at least two years and want the book available for rent.
    • When ordering materials, ask the bookstore for suggestions on reducing costs and/or various packaging options.

  10. Visit the CSU Affordable Learning Solutions website to find quality free or low-cost course content, learn more about the Rent Digital program, and listen to or view discussions about AL$.