I-2: Textbook Policy
Policy Number: I-2
Last Reviewed: October 15, 2012
Responsible Dept.: Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs
Policy Document (PDF)
To minimize the cost of textbooks while maintaining the quality of education and academic
freedom, and in compliance with § 23-4.3:1 of the Code of Virginia amended in 2006.
An Act to amend the Code of Virginia relating to textbook sales at public institutions of higher education
passed and was effective July 1, 2005. A summary of the new guidelines follow:
The Act prohibits employees at Virginia public institutions of higher education from
demanding or receiving any payment, loan, subscription, advance, deposit of money,
services or anything, present or promised, as an inducement for requiring students to
purchase a specific textbook required for coursework or instruction. An exception allows
the employee to receive (i) sample copies, instructor's copies, or instructional material,
not to be sold; and (ii) royalties or other compensation from sales of textbooks that
include such instructor's own writing or work.
The measure also requires the governing boards to implement procedures for making
available to students in a central location and in a standard format on the relevant
institutional website listings of textbooks required or assigned for particular courses at the
Finally, institutions maintaining a bookstore supported by auxiliary services or operated by a private
contractor must post the listing of such textbooks when the relevant instructor or academic department
identifies the required textbooks for order and subsequent student purchase.
The following are guidelines for selection of textbooks:
- Textbook adoptions are made by each academic school with sufficient lead time to the Bookstore so
as to confirm availability of the requested materials and, where possible, ensure maximum
availability of used textbooks. (The Bookstore requires textbook list by April 15 for fall
semester, October 15 for spring semester, and March 15 for the summer session).
- Full-time faculty are responsible for selecting textbooks for courses in their area. In disciplines
where there is no full-time faculty member, the division dean will consult with the adjunct faculty.
- Unless otherwise approved by the academic dean, all sections of a course (ie...HIS 121) will use the
- When possible, a textbook should be used for three academic years to allow for the use of used
textbooks. Exceptions to this can only be made with the approval of the academic dean and in
consideration of academic quality, changes in technology, changes in the field, or in a situation
where the publisher changes editions and the old edition is no longer being used.
- The textbook including ISBN number must be listed on all Course Outlines. If no textbook is used,
that must be stated in the Course Outline.
- The textbook selection for each course, including ISBN number, must be listed on the college
- The college works collaboratively with the bookstore in order to reduce the cost of textbooks to
students. Several initiatives that are currently being employed are as follows:
- Buyback is offered all year round. Student cost is reduced up to 25% when students are able to
sell books to the store during buyback and up to 45% when students are able to purchase a
used textbook for their upcoming courses. This option remains viable when faculty are able to
adopt the textbook for use for longer periods and meet the established due date for adoptions.
- Rent-a-textbook is available for many course adoptions and reduces the student cost up to 50%
over the cost of a new book.
- When working with publishers in order to make adoptions, faculty should carefully consider the various
options. The following guidance is provided in order to insure that college employees make a selection
that is cost effective for the student.
- The traditional textbook is often the choice with the lowest total student cost, because it can be
purchased and sold back multiple times throughout the life of the edition.
- Bundles consist of a textbook with ancillary materials such as CDs, DVDs, pass codes, study
guides or other items. Bundles may be more cost effective for students, but only when the
materials cannot be purchased separately or the purchase price of a bundle is lower than the
cost of a used text and the separate purchase of the pass code and/or other
components. Bundles offer the best value when the content is integrated into the course and
the use of the ancillary materials is required by faculty.
- In the case of custom published products, content can be reorganized and additional faculty created
content can be added. The price is typically lower than traditional texts, since students
pay only for the content that is included and publishers can count on higher sales because of
the uniqueness of the content; however, if a faculty member is not committed to using the
textbook for multiple terms it may diminish a student's ability to participate in the buyback
program and can increase the price to students overall due to the inability to return any
textbooks that are not purchased to the publisher by the bookstore.
- An ebook is a digital version of the printed textbook and is usually priced at about 50% of the
cost of the printed textbook. Faculty may allow the purchase of an ebook version of the text in
place of a print textbook option, along with rent-a-text options.
- Loose-leaf versions of textbooks are sold at a lower retail price than traditional texts because
they are unbound paper versions of the textbook. Although the student incurs less expense at
the time of purchase, they also incur the cost of a binder, and most loose-leaf textbooks cannot
be sold during buyback or purchased used.