Textbook Choices 101: A Guide for Faculty (2011 Edition)

Student with a lot of TextbooksBook selection for the Fall 2011 semester will be here before you know it, believe it or not.  We all know that book prices are reaching the point where students may not be able to afford school, not because of the tuition – but because of the textbooks.  In an effort to help educate and assist faculty in examining inexpensive alternatives for the traditional textbook, the Faculty Council, in partnership with the Alternative Textbook Task Force, has developed a list of tips and links to help you get started thinking about alternatives before you are faced with book selection for the next academic year.

A special thanks goes to Kari Makepeace, who researched all the links, which were working at the time this document was created.

Lisa Macon, PhD
Faculty Association President 2010-2011

Textbook Choices 101: A Guide for Faculty (2011 Edition)

Introduction: When working with your fellow faculty to choose a textbook for a class, please be mindful that there are many different types of resources. While we put learning first at Valencia, if there is an opportunity to save money for students while still providing the best learning environment for them, please consider taking that opportunity.

1.0 Tips for Keeping Textbook Costs Low For Students

1.1 Promote the use of used textbooks by making textbook information available:

to bookstores early enough that they can order used copies.

to students early enough that they can purchase used texts from online sources, such as Amazon.com.

1.2 Order “no frills” versions of the book when possible (ie black and white, cheaper paper, etc.)

1.3 Continue to use the same textbook for a longer period of time when possible.

1.4 Make cost analysis a regular part of the textbook selection process. The bookstore may be consulted to determine the best pricing scenario for students.

1.5 Leverage purchasing power with publishers for better prices in high-enrollment courses by:

using the same textbook for multiple, especially sequential courses.

avoiding bundling, as many of the materials end up being unused or underused, but increase the cost to all students.

if bundling is used, establishing an agreement among all course instructors on which supplemental materials will be included and including only those materials that everyone agrees to use.

1.6 Use customized textbooks, abbreviated editions, black and white editions, and loose-leaf editions when available. It is important to establish an understanding with the bookstore that the customized version of the text will be made available for students to return and to be resold in the following semesters.

1.7 When adopting custom-published books, select binding that will allow the books to be sold back by students as used books.

1.8 Select course books that can be accessed using electronic reader technology, such as Kindle or iPad.

1.9 Allow use of multiple editions of a text when a new edition is published.

1.10 Make use of endowed chairs that support the development of alternative texts and course resources focused on reducing cost

2.0 Textbooks Rental Resources

Book Renter: access to over 3 million college textbooks and rent new or used cheap textbooks.


Campus Book Rentals: offers new and gently used textbooks for typically less than half the normal price.


Chegg: gives students access to 4.2 million textbook titles, fast shipping and free returns.


eCampus: rent textbooks or buy new textbooks with up to 90% savings and fast shipping.


Knetbooks: offers a variety of college and university textbook rentals at prices 65-85% less than a campus bookstore.


3.0 Open Textbooks and Free Textbooks

CK-12: a project to develop high school textbooks that meet state standards. Offers more than 20 texts in core high school subjects, which may overlap with community college courses.


Flat World Knowledge: the leading commercial publisher of open textbooks.


Global Text Project: a library of dozens of open textbooks and out-of-print books with open licenses. Hosted by the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business.


Manybooks: the best ebooks for free.


Project Gutenberg: an extensive digital library of public domain books (e.g. Jane Austen’s novels).


Textbook Revolution: lists of free textbooks with user-posted reviews.


The Community College Open Textbook Collaborative: an effort to explore different models of open textbook development and improvement. Offers a long list of open texts and reviews.


The Orange Grove: a searchable and well organized repository of open textbooks and other digital resources. A project of the State of Florida.


The Online Books Page: an extensive catalog of more than 35,000 free online books, including textbooks. Hosted by the University of Pennsylvania library.


Worldwide Center of Math: offers a free intro calculus textbook and video lectures.


4.0 Open Educational Resources

Connexions: a repository of open educational materials, including some open textbooks. The platform is integrated with a print on demand publisher.


DiscoverEd: a federated search of OER repositories across the world.


MERLOT: a large catalog of digital learning materials, some of which are peer reviewed. See specifically the open textbook collection.


OpenCourseWare Consortium: the association of schools with OCW programs (includes MIT & CMU)


5.0 Repositories for Faculty

Apple Learning Interchange: A searchable database of rich media resources for digital teaching and learning developed by educators and by the Apple Learning Interchange itself to encourage the use of IT in education and to improve educational practice generally.


EducaNext: a service supporting the creation and sharing of knowledge for Higher Education. It is open to any member of the academic or research community. *Users must register in order to access resources, and must be a member of an academic institution.


Eduforge: an open access environment designed for the sharing of ideas, research outcomes, open content and open source software for education.


Open Learn: gives free access to Open University course materials (UK based).


Wiki Educator: a community project working collaboratively with the Free Culture Movement towards a free version of the education curriculum by 2015.


World Lecture Hall: publishes links to pages created by faculty worldwide who are using the Web to deliver course materials.


6.0 Discipline Specific Repositories

Applied Math and Science Education Repository (AMSER): AMSER is a portal of educational resources and services built specifically for use by those in Community and Technical Colleges.


Exploratories: a set of exemplary Web-based learning objects (Java applets) that teach concepts in introductory computer graphics at the college and graduate level. Users can download complete Java applets, or build their own from the components collection.


Health Education Assets Library (HEAL): a digital repository that allows medical educators to discover, download, and re-use over 22,000 medical education resources.


iLumina: a digital library of sharable undergraduate teaching materials for chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, and computer science with over 1,500 resources.


National Engineering Education Delivery System (NEEDS) – a digital library with links to online learning materials in engineering and related areas of science and math ; the most comprehensive collection of resources for all types of engineering education.


National Science Digital Library (NSDL): access to high quality resources and tools that support innovations in teaching and learning at all levels of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education


7.0 Repositories for Podcasts and Videos

Academic Earth: full video courses and academic lectures from the world’s leading scholars. Scope: 1,500 videos from 7 US institutions.


EduTube: an educational video search website to watch and download videos from different hosting sites (such as YouTube, Google Video and MetaCafe), using education relevant search criteria. Scope: over 800 videos.


UChannel: a collection of university lectures, panels, and conferences on the public and international affairs issues of the day.


YouTube Edu

Portal for all videos and channels from colleges and universities with a presence on YouTube (mainly US institutions).


World Lecture Project: a directory with links to audio and video lectures from academics around the world. Scope: 749 lectures.


8.0 Open-Access Journals

DOAJ: the Directory of Open Access Journals, maintained by Simmons University.


PLoS: the Public Library of Science


EBSCO Information Services: the Open Science Directory


9.0 Open Content Repositories

Internet Archive Open Educational Resources: hundreds of free courses, video lectures, and supplemental materials from universities in the United States and China


The Faculty Council would like to thank the Alternative Textbook Task Force as well as Kari Makepeace for providing the material for this guide.

Leave a Reply