Textbook Adoption and Use

To address the rising cost of textbooks and maintain access and affordability for students, the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) has developed the following “best practices” in compliance with the Board of Regents’ Policy on Textbook Affordability Measures and the Maryland Education Article, Sec. 15-112, the College Textbook Competition and Affordability Act of 2009:

General Principles
At UMB, most textbooks are selected by individual faculty members.

This practice is consistent with our policy of academic freedom and allows faculty to make individualized choices regarding pedagogy1. Faculty, textbook coordinators, departments, and/or schools are expected to provide timely textbook information to the UMB bookstore. Early adoption and notification to the bookstore are important steps in the cost-reduction process. Once accurate textbook information is posted on the web, students are equipped to search various textbooks outlets to locate what they need for each course.

Faculty should strive to minimize the costs of textbooks and other course materials for students while maintaining the quality of education and academic freedom.

  1. To the extent feasible, a majority of the content of required textbook(s) should be used in the course. The UMB Bookstore can order and stock as “recommended” rather than “required” textbooks that have ancillary information faculty consider helpful or supplementary but not essential.

  2. To ensure textbook adoptions are made with sufficient lead time to confirm availability and, wherever possible, ensure maximum availability of used textbooks, faculty, textbook coordinators, departments, and/or schools are expected to submit textbook and course material adoption information to the UMB bookstore no later than the following dates, which are mandated by the USM policy:
    Fall semester adoptions by May 1
    Spring semester adoptions by Dec. 1
    Summer session adoptions by March 1

    Given that national demand for used textbooks far exceeds supply, early acquisition is essential. Wherever possible, faculty members are strongly encouraged to submit their adoptions in advance of the USM established deadlines noted above. In addition to allowing the UMB bookstore to promptly obtain used textbooks, early textbook adoption also enables the UMB bookstore to pay students the most for their used books. Furthermore, timely adoption notice also allows students to actively search for the most reasonably priced textbooks.
  3. Faculty members are expected to be aware of any variation in pricing when ordering a different book by a different publisher or a new edition of a previously used book.
  4. Faculty members are encouraged to limit their use of new editions unless a new edition differs significantly in a substantive way. Obviously, selection of a new edition obviates a student’s ability to purchase a cheaper used edition of the prior edition.
  5. Faculty are encouraged to notify the bookstore when prior editions of a textbook remain suitable for use. Older editions are more available in used form and may have a lower base price than their newer counterparts.
  6. Faculty should be aware of the existence of course materials that are available in both “bundled” and “unbundled” form as prices between these two forms of packaging can vary.
  7. Faculty are encouraged to consider using a standard book for all sections of introductory-level courses so that used books will have more resale value and to explore ways that departmental coordination can reduce costs for students. Moreover, textbook adoptions, wherever feasible, should be used for multiple rather than single semesters or terms, thereby creating a demand and market for used texts that result in lower costs for students.
  8. Faculty are encouraged to provide access to required textbooks and other educational materials, if applicable, through library checkout or similar arrangements, and allow for resale and reuse of textbooks and manuals. UMB also encourages faculty to consider electronic books, book chapters, electronic journal articles, and other digital materials provided through the web for supplemental and core reading in support of classroom work.

    An important new obligation under new state law is the requirement that faculty “acknowledge” the existence of explicit information as it relates to the adoption of certain types of textbooks. Accordingly, the Office of Academic Affairs will implement a temporary paper-based textbook adoption acknowledgement process for the spring 2011 semester and will work with the schools/programs to secure acknowledgement from affected faculty members. The office will implement a permanent electronic textbook adoption acknowledgement process for the fall 2011 semester and beyond.


1In some cases, a departmental committee or a committee composed of faculty teaching a course may select texts.

2The bookstore is obligated to post relevant textbook information within one week of receipt. 

3Under the new Maryland law, Educ. Art. Sec. 15-112 (E)1.(III), publishers are required to inform faculty (or their designees) of substantial content revisions when a new edition is released. The UMB bookstore has contact information for all major publishers and can help you contact them if you wish to inquire about content revision.  Publishers are also required to notify faculty as to which textbooks are integrated textbooks and thus not subject to the unbundling requirement. 

4UMB’s bookstore, as a matter of practice, unbundles all book sets to make purchase of the individual unit parts available to UMB students. 

Textbook Affordability Act
Faculty members are required to acknowledge understanding and consideration of this law before selecting a college textbook.

The State of Maryland’s College Textbook Competition and Affordability Act of 2009 has as its purposes to establish practices in higher education institutions in the state in which textbook selection reflects consideration of textbook prices and ways to reduce costs to students, that posts textbook decisions in a timely manner to help students in obtaining assigned books at the least cost, and promotes competition. The statute notes that textbook prices increased by more than twice the increase in overall inflation between 1986 and 2004.

Selected Provisions in the Statute:
Best Practices:

Section (1)(C)(3). Each public institution of higher education in the State shall develop and implement a best-practices process for faculty in selecting college textbooks and supplemental material that:

ensures early adoption of college textbooks and supplemental material; encourages the maximum usage of used college textbooks and of previous editions of college textbooks, when possible, for undergraduate college textbooks, ensures that the majority of the assigned material will be used in the course unless it would be in the student’s financial interest to purchase separate materials; and ensures that faculty are aware of various outlets for the supply of college textbooks and supplemental material.

Requirements for Publishers:

Section (1)(E)(1). A publisher that sells college textbooks or supplemental material and provides information regarding a college textbook or supplemental material to a faculty member, other adopting entity in charge of selecting course materials, or the administration of an institution of higher education shall disclose with this information, in writing, by paper or electronic means:

the price of the college textbook or supplemental material; the title, author, publisher, edition, current and three previous copyright dates, publication date when available, and ISBN of the college textbook and supplemental material, both as bundled and unbundled items; substantial content revisions made between the current edition of the college textbook or supplemental material and the previous edition of the college textbook or supplemental material; other available formats for the college textbook or supplemental material such as paperback or unbound; and a list of textbooks that are classified as integrated textbooks.

Faculty Acknowledgment:

Section (1)(D)(2). Before selecting a college textbook or supplemental material and before transmitting the selection to a campus bookstore, providing the selection to any other bookstore, or posting the selection on the website of the public institution of higher education, a faculty member shall acknowledge:

If selecting a different college textbook from a different publisher, the cost of the new selection versus the cost of the previous selection; or if selecting a current edition of a college textbook, the differences in substantial content between the current edition of the textbook and the previous edition of the textbook as reported by the publisher under subsection (E) of this section; that the use of the current edition is appropriate due to a material change in substantial content between the current edition and the previous edition; the difference in price between the current edition of the textbook and the previous edition of the textbook; and that the previous edition of the textbook may be available to students at a lower price via the used book market. That an integrated textbook is not subjection to subsection (F)(3) of this section; and that supplemental material included in a bundle is intended for use in the course.

Section (1)(E)(2). Faculty members acknowledge having been informed about the disclosures required of publishers under section (1)(E)(1) and the impact that the high cost of college textbooks and supplemental material has on students. (See Requirements for Publishers, previous page.)

Academic Freedom:

Section (1)(I). This section (referring to all of Section 1 of the statute) may not be construed to supersede the institutional autonomy or academic freedom of faculty members involved in the selection of college textbooks and supplemental material.

Definitions in the Statute:

Section (1)(A). “Supplemental material” means educational material developed to accompany a college textbook that is not being used as a component of an integrated textbook. “Supplemental material” includes printed materials and electronic materials such as computer disks and web access codes. “Bundle” means one or more college textbooks or other supplemental material that are packaged together to be sold as course materials for one price. “Integrated textbook” means a college textbook that is combined with materials developed by a third party and that, by third-party contractual agreement, may not be offered by publishers separately from the college textbook with which the materials are combined; or other materials that are so interrelated with the content of the college textbook that the separation of the college textbook from the other materials would render the college textbook unusable for its intended purpose.

Faculty Acknowledgement of Compliance:

As directed by the state's Textbook Affordability Law, faculty members must submit an acknowledgement of compliance with the law. Acknowledge Compliance


Policy on Textbook Affordability Measures
Approved by the Board of Regents on Feb. 13, 2009

I. Purpose

The University System of Maryland Board of Regents recognizes that the rising cost of textbooks must be addressed in order to maintain access and affordability for USM students. Therefore each degree-granting institution shall implement the measures outlined in the following policy. 

II. Policy 

1. All University System of Maryland degree-granting institutions shall post on the institutional website ISBN, title, author, publisher, and edition for required course material as soon as faculty members and the bookstore have finalized the textbook selection but no later than May 1 for the fall semester and December 1 for the spring semester. In the case that a course has not been assigned a faculty member by the given deadline, textbook selection shall be conducted and communicated to enrolled students expeditiously upon selection of the materials.

2. Institutional bookstores shall provide faculty members who are placing book orders with current information about the retail price of selected course materials.

3. Faculty teaching the same course for multiple semesters are encouraged to use the same textbooks and course materials for multiple semesters to the extent practicable and educationally sound.

4. Faculty should be encouraged to order new editions of textbooks only if necessary and if older editions are not of comparable educational content. Faculty should list information pertinent to previous editions which are of acceptable use, as described in Section 1.

5. Institutions shall make faculty aware of the option to request unbundled versions of textbook and course materials and of the price differential.

6. Faculty should order textbook bundles only if the supplements included with textbooks are necessary to the curriculum and instruction.

7. In the case that a faculty member assigns bundled materials, the bookstore shall make available both bundled and unbundled versions of the materials for purchase. Institutions and bookstores shall clarify on the bookstore website that in the case of the assignment of bundled materials, students should purchase either the bundled package or all required portions of the bundle individually. III-10.00 page 1

8. Faculty should permit students to purchase electronic versions of textbooks when available.

9. Faculty members should incorporate into course instruction the use of online resources wherever feasible and prudent.

10.Institutions shall seek ways to lessen the financial hardship of college textbook purchases, such as targeted scholarship and financial aid funds, consideration of textbook rentals for introductory courses, consideration of placing selected course materials on reserve in campus libraries when practicable, and development of customized course materials. 

III. Implementation 

This policy shall be effective beginning with the course materials assigned for the Fall 2009 semester. Institutions shall include in course evaluations, questions concerning the use and value of assigned textbooks and other course materials. Institutions should make faculty aware of the provisions in this policy each semester. The Council of University System Presidents (CUSP), the Academic Affairs Advisory Council (AAAC), the University System of Maryland Student Council(USMSC), and the Council of University System Faculty (CUSF) shall work together to provide to the Chancellor periodic reports on the impact and effectiveness of this policy.