Textbooks and Materials Policies and Options
- Bookstore Ordering Deadlines:
- For fall term: last working day in February
- For spring and summer terms: October 1
These deadlines are exceptionally important because as part of the Textbook Provision of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), all institutions of higher education receiving Title IV funding (student financial aid) must list required and recommended textbooks prior to student registration. For complete details, see https://www.valdosta.edu/academics/academic-affairs/textbook-heoa.php. Further, those classes participating in the VSU Day 1 program must have textbook orders in by that date so the bookstore may negotiate prices.
In addition, per University System of Georgia policy, all institutions are required to designate sections where materials are no cost ($0) or low cost (less than $40). These designations are available on the proof schedules for all departments, so faculty should confirm with their department heads if their classes fit these criteria.
All faculty should place textbook orders via Follett Discover, a tab within BlazeVIEW.
- Board of Regents’ Policy Manual Academic Textbooks (Section 3.10):
The University System of Georgia (USG) Chief Academic Officer shall establish guidelines in the Academic & Student Affairs Handbook regarding the designation and sale of textbooks required for coursework at USG institutions, including provisions that:
- Promote increased communication between students, faculty, and college bookstores concerning the use of textbooks in the classroom, the designation of required versus recommended texts, textbook costs (including a designation of free and low-cost textbooks and textbook alternatives), textbook adoption schedules, alternative acquisition methods, and other factors affecting the designation and sale of textbooks in order to increase the options available to students in meeting their cost of education while maintaining academic rigor and quality of instruction;
- Ensure that bookstore operations, whether managed internally or outsourced to private vendors, offer the best value to students in acquiring textbooks and actively promote alternative options to help minimize student cost;
- Require a review process at the institution for determining if faculty may use self-authored texts in their classroom; and,
- Prohibit faculty from reselling sample texts provided by publishers or profiting from any financial incentives offered by publishers in the assignment of specific texts.
- University System of Georgia’s Academic and Student Affairs Handbook Academic Textbooks (Section 2.19):
The Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of the USG shall establish guidelines concerning the designation and sale of textbooks required for coursework.
Educational material is defined as any instruments, devices, software, web content, or copied or published materials used in the classroom, laboratory, on-line courses, or correspondence courses.
All information required for ordering educational materials should be submitted to institutional bookstores. Exceptions can be approved at the departmental level. The institutional bookstore will distribute lists of these educational materials to private competitors. Recommendations to students, as to source for materials, should not list one supplier over another.
- There are no restrictions on the adoption of textbooks written by faculty members. Prior to the adoption of a textbook, approval must be obtained from the departmental committee. The existence of such a committee is necessary to prevent any possible conflicts of interest.
- No faculty member may charge/collect remuneration for educational materials directly from the students.
- If any conflict of interest arises as a result of sales of textbooks or other educational materials, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, in consultation with the Deans Council, Faculty Senate, and Student Government, will appoint a committee to hear the case and advise the Vice President for Academic Affairs on a course of action.
- Copyright clearance must be obtained by the issuing department or faculty, where necessary, for compilations to be sold through institutional bookstores. Institutional and System general counsel may insist on this process.
- Royalties may not be paid to individual faculty for compilations he/she produces for copy and resale through an institutional bookstore.
- Textbooks Authored by Faculty (VSU Policy):
Either as individuals or as members of departmental committees, faculty members select textbooks that they think will best enhance the teaching and learning process for the courses that they teach. Sometimes existing textbooks on the market do not meet the teaching and learning needs for a course. Existing textbooks may not be coherent, may not include desired perspectives, or may be antiquated. In order to provide students with the best learning resources possible for a course, faculty members may choose to write their own textbook for the course. Writing textbooks is an important part of faculty scholarly activity. (Educational Policies Committee, Faculty Senate Minutes, April 15, 2004)
However, textbooks authored by VSU Faculty must be reviewed per USG policy: There are no restrictions on the adoption of textbooks written by faculty members. Prior to the adoption of a textbook, approval must be obtained from the departmental committee. The existence of such a committee is necessary to prevent any possible conflicts of interest.
Consult with your department head about the correct process in your department/college.
Textbook and Materials Options
For lower cost texts and materials, VSU faculty have a number of available options:
- VSU Day 1: VSU’s bookstore offers a textbook savings program that allows students access to digital materials from the first day of class at the lowest possible price negotiated with the publisher.
- Affordable Learning Georgia provides links and information about a variety of OERs (Open Educational Resources) and other materials available to faculty.
Tips for Controlling Textbook Prices
Because new textbooks are generally the most expensive option for our students, faculty can assist VSU’s Bookstore in obtaining less expensive materials by doing the following:
- Placing book orders by the specified deadlines. In this way, VSU’s Bookstore will have the information needed to purchase as many used books as possible from both VSU students and wholesalers (before other colleges purchase them). The bookstore will not buy back lab manuals or other write-in books or manuals unless they are clean and unused by the student.
- Using the same book for several terms. If the Bookstore is able to buy back the same text, it can be used multiple terms resulting in savings for students. Similarly, the Bookstore can add a text that will be used for at least 4 terms as part of its local rental program—an option that is less expensive than a used text.
- Carefully evaluating textbook “packages”. Some textbooks come packaged with additional materials (a study guide, an access code to web materials, etc.). If these materials are not essential to meeting the goals of the course, faculty may want to consider only the textbook. These additional materials cannot be resold.
- Checking retail prices for textbooks they intend to adopt.
- Convert to digital materials and participate in the Day 1 Textbook Savings Program.