1. Choose an Open Educational Resource (OER) textbook. 

  • OER books are designed to be reused, remixed, and shared, so you can customize your textbook to match your needs.
  • There are many high quality, peer reviewed, college level OER textbooks to choose from, such as those listed in the Open Textbook Library and those published by OpenStax.  
  • Many OER textbooks also provide additional instructor resources (PowerPoint slides, additional test questions, etc.)
  • The e-book versions of OER texts are free for students. Several OER textbooks (including all those from OpenStax) also have very low cost print-on-demand options to provide students with the benefits of print at much lower costs than commercial publishers charge.   
  1. Choose a library-licensed e-book with appropriate Digital Rights Management (DRM).

The library makes every effort to license DRM-free e-books, which work well as textbooks.  These are e-books that allow multiple students to read the books at the same time, as well as print and download portions of the text. The library's rental license, purchase, or membership makes these free for students to use. Some of the publishers that the library supports or can purchase DRM-free books from include (among others):

Unfortunately, not every e-book is available with a library license/purchase option, or a DRM-free option. Contact your librarian to find out if your textbook has an appropriate e-book option that the library could purchase for your class. We are happy to explore the different e-book options with you.

  1. Use the library's course reserves service. 

  • Put copies of your textbook and other required reading on course reserves. You determine the checkout period: two hours, 24 hours, or 72 hours. 
  • The reserves unit will purchase one copy of a requested book for reserves. You can also add personal or department copies to your reserves list. 
  • If you want to use an e-book for your class, make a note on your online Reserve Book List form, or contact the reserves unit at bookreserves@ucsc.edu. We are happy to explore the different ebook options with you.
  1. 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.

  1. Talk with the Baytree Bookstore.

  • Submit textbook orders on time! Submitting course material requests to the bookstore on time or early (before finals week of the previous quarter is best) allows the bookstore to buy back textbooks from students at the end of the quarter and offer a sufficient supply of used books.
  • Let the bookstore know if older editions, or any edition, is OK to save students money.
  • Let the bookstore know if you are committed to using the same textbook and same edition of the book for multiple quarters or years. This will encourage the bookstore to buy the textbooks back from students and ensure a supply of used editions for students to purchase.
  • Consult with the bookstore on what the actual selling price to the student will be. Publisher sales representatives may occasionally misquote retail pricing. Ask the bookstore for suggestions on reducing costs and/or about various packaging options, such as rental books.
  • Request only materials you intend to use in class, and let the bookstore know which are required, recommended, or optional.
  1. Are you using multiple print texts but assigning just a portion of each text? Consider creating a printed custom course reader.

  • Readers are usually cheaper for students than purchasing multiple textbooks (but please do the math to verify this is true for your specific course needs!). 
  • Use the campus Professor Publishing Service to create a printed custom course reader including articles, book chapters, printed websites, and other materials. Professor Publishing Service also offers copyright clearances as needed.
  • Another option is to scan the paper materials you want students to read and link to them (along with other online readings) from your course webpage. Here is an FAQ about how copyright fits into doing this.
  1. Think twice before requiring access codes for homework, quizzes, and tests.

These are very costly for students, particularly when they are not included in the price of the textbook. One study found that the average cost of a stand-alone access code was $100.24 in addition to the cost of the textbook. By creating access codes that include assignments and tests, publishers lock 100% of the students in a course into buying their product and eliminate a student’s ability to opt-out, which is a strain on their budgets.

  1. Communicate with your students before the quarter starts.

  • A great way to help students find the best deals is to let them know about their assignments as early as possible. When you get your class list, send an email with the title, author, edition, and ISBN for each book. Also post this information on your course web page.
  • Make sure to note whether any titles are optional and if using an older or unbundled edition is acceptable.
  • Point your students to the library’s Affordable Textbook web page for students so they can find tips for reducing their purchase price for textbooks and have the books they need in hand on the first day of class. 
  1. Collaborate.

Talk with your colleagues about adopting the same textbook for the same or similar courses taught by different instructors.  If this is a commercial book, this may help the bookstore negotiate volume pricing. And if this is a free textbook (either an open access textbook or a library licensed one) you can help spread the savings to more students! 

  1. Spread the word!

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