To: Deans, Directors, and Department Heads

Warwick A. Arden
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Subject: Textbook Adoption and Additional Course Costs
Date: April 6, 2017

It is time to choose your textbooks and make decisions about any additional software or hardware needed for your course for the fall semester. As you make these decisions, please remember that we strive to provide a world-class education to students at a reasonable cost, minimizing additional fees when possible.


The emphasis on textbook costs across the UNC system continues to create a greater sense of urgency to submit timely textbook requests. The early deadline of April 5 has passed but the bookstore accepts requests at any point, though early adoption allows the bookstore:

  • To buy back eligible textbooks thereby returning more money to our students
  • A greater opportunity to obtain low-cost used books from the open market, internet, and wholesalers
  • To have enough time for materials to be delivered, stocked, and available to students before the first day of classes
  • To resolve any issues between publishers and/or wholesalers that might delay course material availability for student purchase
  • To work with the Libraries to provide a copy of all required texts on Library Course Reserves

Mandates of the Higher Education Opportunity Act, as well as the UNC Board of Governors, specify that the bookstore must be notified if instructors or departments adopt materials not supplied by the bookstore or do not use any texts at all. As the main point of contact for students, it is important the bookstore know what materials an instructor is using (or not using) so that it can relay accurate course information.


In addition to textbook costs, rising software and hardware costs are also of concern across the UNC system.  In addition to, or in lieu of a textbook, instructors often ask students to purchase individual licenses for access to content or the use of hardware (for example, clickers) or software (for example, access to WebAssign or a license to use some other online tool).  Across multiple courses, these purchases for additional access to materials or resources continue to add up significantly as a cost to our students.

Before asking students to purchase additional software or hardware for your course, please review the resources (  that are currently available campus wide to students at no cost, for example:

  • Moodle – which includes online assignment submission, quizzing/testing, and discussion tools,
  • My Mediasite for recording videos, and
  • Blackboard Collaborate and Google Hangouts – for online meetings,

to see if these resources can meet your teaching needs.  Additionally, please check for resources that may be freely available to your students in your college or online.  Contact DELTA, for additional information. 


The continuing rise in the cost of textbooks, hardware, and software is a concern to everyone in higher education. Reducing the cost of learning materials will take a combined effort of the NC State Bookstores, faculty, departments, and the Administration.

If you have questions or additional ideas for effective management of these costs, please contact me (, Anthony Sanders ( or Christopher Walsh (

If you have questions or additional ideas for software or hardware that should be considered for an enterprise-level license for student use, please contact LearnTech (

Thank you for your time and attention.


  • Best practices in textbook management
  • Best practices in adopting additional hardware, software, or licenses to support your teaching

Best Practices in Textbook Management

? Thank you for considering the costs of textbooks in your strategy for textbook adoption and use of other materials in your courses. YOUR STUDENTS APPRECIATE YOUR CARE!

? All teaching faculty are to submit their book lists to the NC State Bookstores by its established deadlines (Fall = April 5; Spring = October 15; Summer = March 15). Departments are encouraged to set their own deadlines for submissions that precede the dates specified by the Bookstores.

? Review Academic Policies and Regulation #02.20.10 entitled “Listing of Required Course Materials with the NC State Bookstores found at this website:

? At the same time faculty submit their textbook lists to the NC State Bookstores, we encourage using the NCSU Libraries Course Reserves to make reserve copies available to students, along with other relevant materials for the course. Be aware that the bookstore now provides a copy of each required textbook directly to the library each semester and can be found by going to this website:

? Faculty members are encouraged to donate desk copies they receive from textbook publishers to the NCSU Libraries, where they can be placed on reserve.

? Unless specifically requested to do otherwise, NC State Bookstores will order unbundled texts whenever such are available, encourage faculty where applicable to use texts in the same edition used previously, and work with faculty to adopt the least expensive textbook that is pedagogically sound.

? Require a textbook only if it will be used in a substantial way in the course. Students’ end-of-semester course evaluations can inform instructors’ decisions regarding perceived value of course texts.

? Whenever practical, provide students with supplemental materials to update textbooks rather than requiring new editions.

? Faculty-authored texts required for purchase by enrolled students must be approved through the process defined in the author’s Conflict of Interest statement.

? Faculty members are encouraged to work with textbook publishers to develop more economical materials that may include low-cost, online alternatives to traditional textbooks.

? Faculty members are encouraged to consider potentially lower-cost content options such as electronic reserves and/or digital access to materials that are appropriate to course objectives. For example, the Libraries provides support and grants through the Alt-Textbook Project to adopt, adapt, or create free or low-cost alternatives to expensive textbooks (Open Educational Resources). For more information, visit the Libraries’ Textbooks site at

? Faculty and departmental textbook coordinators should regularly review the section of the NC State Bookstores website titled Faculty Resources and found here:

Best Practices in Adopting Additional Hardware, Software, or Licenses to Support Your Teaching

? All hardware, software, and licenses must comply with university regulations with regard to FERPA (, accessibility ( and online course material hosting requirements ( IT staff is available to research and review all of these aspects (email

? Whenever practical, for online quizzing and testing, use the Moodle quizzing tool found here: (free to all students) in lieu of tools such as WebAssign which require a separate fee.

? Whenever practical, find and use open educational resources for your students instead of asking them to purchase additional options from a textbook publisher.

? For courses that use clickers, campus protocol stipulates that students only be required to purchase hardware from Turning Technologies. This lowers potential expenses to the students by ensuring that they can use the same device for all courses where clickers are part of the teaching method.

? Require a software license or hardware purchase (e.g., a clicker) only if it will be actively used for academic benefit in the course. Students’ end-of-semester course evaluations can inform instructors’ decisions regarding perceived value of a for-fee technology.

? NC State DELTA and OIT staff can assist you with questions related to hardware, software, or additional licenses needed to support your teaching.  Contact for further information.