Saturday, March 5, 2016

That 0ngoing Textbook Problem

A common complaint heard pretty much any time two faculty get together is, “My students won’t buy the textbook. What do I do?”

Might one possible solution, Professor Pettaway asked in a recent email, be to have all students purchase iPads with their textbooks already loaded?  “Since most faculty complain about students not purchasing text books,” he wrote, “I have long espoused the ideas of all freshmen being required to purchase I Pads for a fee (included in the tuition bill) that would include the text book materials for all first year courses. After the freshman year, this cohort  would pay a textbook fee only for textbooks.  In four years Lincoln’s entire student body would have all textbooks delivered electronically.”
With his permission, I am posting the issue here, along with a link he provided to an article in Inside Higher Ed  about how some other universities are using iPads.
What do you think?  Could something like this work at Lincoln?  Are there other ways (cheaper, lower tech?) to solve the “they won’t buy their textbooks” dilemma? Have you tried anything that works in your classes?


  1. Another option is to include the cost of textbooks in tuition. This continues to work well at other universities. Students stop at the bookstore with a voucher of the books included in their tuition for each semester. If they do not want to purchase outright, there is a rental fee and provided students returns the text in good condition at the end of the semester, a credit is applied to their account.
    Issues to consider;
    1) This approach requires additional staffing in the bookstore at the beginning and end of each semester and meticulous record keeping.
    2) Students have to sign a separate promissory document holding them responsible for returning rentals in good conditions or agree that they will not receive a rebate for the rental.
    3) Many textbook companies give rebates to schools for rental agreements.
    As with physical textbooks, iPads and ebooks are good but not an option for every student.

    Nancy Norman-Marzella

  2. That's a really interesting option, Nancy. I wonder if we have discussed it at Lincoln. If not, it's worth exploring. And I agree with you that some students can do well with electronic books but not all. Guess there are no easy answers!