Textbook Pricing Policies and Student Access

Educational Policies Committee

As a result of a request to review textbook pricing systemwide (S96 20.1), the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges distributed a survey soliciting bookstore information from all bookstore managers, local academic senate presidents, and student body presidents. The information from the survey, plus additional research is included in this paper to examine several issues involved in the rising costs of textbooks, particularly from the perspective of costs to students and possible barriers to enrollment and success. The paper identifies areas of concern, and makes suggestions to local academic senates on how to recognize and address those concerns on their local campuses.


Recommendations to Local Academic Senates

  1. Each local academic senate should include bookstore policies in its college/district shared governance agreement.
  2. Each local academic senate should determine the goals of the college bookstore and should review bookstore policies in light of the questions raised in this document.
  3. Each college should have a shared governance bookstore committee that influences pricing policies and the use of profits.
  4. The college shared governance bookstore committee should primarily include student and faculty members.
  5. Each local academic senate should encourage the college to track the effect of textbook prices on student success, as part of their student equity and/or matriculation plan. Scholarships or book loans might be used to mitigate the effect of high book costs on student access.

Recommendations to Faculty

  1. Faculty should be aware of the impact of textbook costs on student access and success.
  2. Faculty should consider both academic integrity and financial implications in making their textbook adoption decisions.
  3. Faculty should be aware of textbook adoption practices that impact the cost of texts: the use of multiple titles, late orders, bundled materials and frequency of change.
  4. Faculty should consider a wide range of practices that might be adopted to lower the cost of textbooks to students, such as:
    • ensuring the availability of textbook scholarships and loans
    • putting texts on reserve in the library
    • identifying online sources of materials
    • using of custom texts