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Affordable Textbooks

Ten Ways to Reduce Textbook Costs for Your Students

  1. Choose an Open Educational Resource (OER). 
  • Peer-reviewed OER textbooks with instructor materials are widely available. (See "Where to Find OER" below.)
  • OER textbooks are free for students online.
  • Some OER textbooks have low cost print-on-demand (such as from OpenStax.)
  • OER textbooks are designed to be reused, remixed, and shared, so you can customize them to match your needs. (See "OER Development/Adaptation Guides" below.)
  • Contact your librarian for help locating high quality OER textbooks.
  1. Choose a library-licensed ebook with appropriate digital rights management (DRM).

Combined, these databases contain over 70,000 ebooks that allow multiple students to access them simultaneously and ensure longevity of access. Contact your librarian for help finding a suitable textbook from the Library's ebook collection.

  1. Use the Library's Course Reserve service. 
  • Place copies of your course textbooks and other required reading on Reserve. This allows student to check them out for a limited time within the Library building. 
  • Use your personal or departmental copies, or use copies from the Library's collection.
  • See Reserve Services for more information.
  1. Consider earlier editions of textbooks.
  • Publishers release “new” editions about every three years, which typically cost 12% more than the previous editions. 
  • Let the bookstore know that you want to use an earlier edition of a textbook.
  • You can even allow students to use any edition of the textbook. 
  • The Library has many earlier textbook editions to put on reserve.
  1. Work with the campus Bookstore.
  • Submit textbook orders early!  (Before finals week of the previous semester is best.)  This allows time for the bookstore to buy back used textbooks from students and offer a good supply for the next semester.
  • Request only books that you will actually require students to use.
  • Ask the bookstore for the selling price of your requested textbook and for suggestions on how to reduce the cost.
  1. Consider creating a Course Pack if you use multiple textbooks but assign just a portion of each.
  • Course packs are usually cheaper for students than purchasing multiple textbooks (but please verify this in your specific case.)
  • Use XanEdu via the F.I.T. Bookstore to create printed custom course packs that include articles, book chapters, printed websites, and other materials.  The service is found on under Discover - Custom Solutions.
  • These "options for providing access to course materials for students" from the University of Washington Libraries also apply here at Florida Tech.
  1. Avoid "bundled" textbook access codes for homework, quizzes, and tests.
  • One study found the average cost of a stand-alone access code to be $100.24 in addition to the cost of the textbook.
  • Textbooks bundled with access codes that expire at the end of the semester render the books worthless in the resale market.
  1. Communicate with your students before the semester begins so they can find the best deals on textbooks.
  • Let them know their requirements (e.g. open book tests) as early as possible. Send an email with the title, author, edition, and ISBN for each textbook, and post the information on your course web page.
  • Be sure to note which titles are optional and if using an older or unbundled edition is acceptable.
  • Point your students to the Solutions for Students section of this guide. 
  1. Collaborate.
  • Talk with your colleagues about adopting the same textbook for the same or similar courses taught by different instructors.
  •  If you all select a commercial textbook, then the bookstore might help negotiate volume pricing. 
  • If you all select a free textbook (either an open textbook or a library licensed one), then you can help more students realize savings! 
  1. Spread the word!

Share with your colleagues best practices and knowledge of more affordable options.

Where to Find OER


Excerpts from "The Truth (About OER) Is Out There," Inside Higher Ed, January 10, 2018

OER Development / Adaptation Guides

Prepared for the Commonwealth of Leaning & UNESCO to provide readers with a quick and user-friendly introduction to Open Educational Resources (OER) and some of the key issues to think about when exploring how to use OER most effectively.

This is a handbook for faculty interested in practicing open pedagogy by involving students in the making of open textbooks, ancillary materials, or other OER.  This is a first edition, compiled by Rebus Community, who welcome feedback and ideas to expand the text.

This is a living document designed to support university and college faculty who want to create their first open textbook. Key sections are organized in an FAQ format and include information related to stakeholders, technology, copyright, accessibility, and more general production and classroom use workflows.

This is a five-step guide for faculty, and those who support faculty, who want to modify an open textbook. Step-by-step instructions for importing and editing common open textbook file and platform types are included.

This is a living document designed to support university and college faculty who would like to create their first open textbook. Key sections in this toolkit are organized in an FAQ format and include information related to stakeholders, technology, copyright, accessibility, and more general production and classroom use workflows of an open textbook.

The BCcampus Open Education Self-Publishing Guide is a reference for individuals or groups wanting to write and self-publish open textbooks. This guide provides details on the preparation, planning, writing, publication, and maintenance of an open textbook.


Affordable Textbooks: Instructors Make Textooks Affordable” by UC Santa Cruz University Library is licensed under CC BY 3.0.