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I-2: Textbook Policy

Policy Number: I-2
Last Reviewed: October 15, 2012
Responsible Dept.: Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs

Policy Document (PDF)

Purpose

To minimize the cost of textbooks while maintaining the quality of education and academic freedom, and in compliance with ยง 23-4.3:1 of the Code of Virginia amended in 2006.

Policy

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 institution.

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.

Procedure

The following are guidelines for selection of textbooks:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Unless otherwise approved by the academic dean, all sections of a course (ie...HIS 121) will use the same textbook.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. The textbook selection for each course, including ISBN number, must be listed on the college website.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
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