Here are four things to keep in mind if you are thinking about adopting a new textbook:
- Texts that require a code for online content access are popular with publishers because the codes can only be used one time, but students lose the ability to save money buying used texts or sharing texts with a friend if professors require online materials that need a code.
- Not all online materials are accessible to all learners, and this sets up possible accommodation problems down the road. Portland Community College has a great list of accessibility questions to ask publishers before adopting their online content.
- Many courses, including most general education courses, have free textbooks available online, and these materials are often available in print for a very low cost. A majority of college students have decided not to buy a textbook because of its cost, and free Open Educational Resources are very good options. In fact, a Wichita State Faculty member has written one for OpenStax!
- Textbook publishing is a business, and understanding a little bit about how it operates will make you a more savvy consumer. Textbook costs are high in part because of the principle agent problem (where the person who makes the buying choice doesn’t have to spend the money). Want to learn more about the textbook market? Listen to this excellent podcast from Planet Money.