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Textbook Affordability

We get it, College is expensive!

The Bookstore @ Northern is committed to minimizing the rising costs of textbooks. Faculty carefully considers the appropriateness of textbooks and other supplemental materials, the cost to students, and factors that determine the cost. State and federal legislation mandate that faculty strive for maximum use and minimal cost of instructional materials to alleviate the economic burden on students.

The following are best practices for achieving the most cost effective and optimal instructional use of textbooks and materials for students.

  • Provides textbook information as early as possible. ISBNs and ordering information are posted on the Bookstore's Web site to allow students comparison shopping time. Students can anticipate this information being posted in November for the Spring semester and April for Summer and Fall semesters.
  • Encourages faculty textbook submissions prior to finals and textbook buyback. Students receive up to 50% of the current retail price for their unwanted books, and the Bookstore can then place the used book stock on its shelves for other students to buy at a reduced price.
  • Orders only the books that will be used to support learning objectives. Textbooks are distinguished between required and optional.
  • Negotiates prices with publishers. Faculty ask for the net price of the textbooks and supplements, so the selling price to students can be calculated and negotiated to pass the savings to students. Publishers are required to provide prices for supplemental materials, bundled and unbundled materials, current and previous textbook editions and paperbacks and other alternative textbook formats.
  • Considers cost efficient customized textbooks. In some cases, customization is more than a different cover, title page or minimal changes to content. Such customization requires a new ISBN. If either the original or customized textbooks can be used for a course, both ISBNs are provided.The Bookstore @ Northern does not buyback custom textbooks.
  • Offers bundles having only essential materials. As such, all bundled materials being offered are used for a course. If all bundled materials are not necessary, faculty negotiates with publishers about unbundling. Though, bundling significantly reduces the cost to students, faculty carefully considers the impact of one-time-use bundled materials will have on students' ability to sell those materials back to the Bookstore or to other students. 
  • Investigates e-textbook offerings. Many textbooks are available electronically through Redshelf - saving students' money and providing flexible access. Faculty contact publishers about the availability of an electronic version of the textbook being considered.
  • Recommends open source textbooks where available. There is a growing movement to create and post public domain textbooks.
  • Communicates to students how the textbook(s) will be used in a course. Faculty provides this information early in the semester and addresses student concerns and questions about textbook costs and use. At the end of the course, faculty encourage student feedback on the textbook(s) use and value.
  • Supports using textbooks for multiple semesters when possible. Faculty work with the Bookstore to insure a sufficient supply for an entire semester.
  • Offers current required textbooks on reserve in the Library. Faculty work with librarians to identify specific needs and use patterns.
  • Encourages multiple editions to be used for a course when practical. Readings and homework assignments may need adjusting.