Thanks to initiatives to help professors release book lists early and to provide students with a website where they can swap used books, it could be less stressful for students to buy textbooks next year.
Statistics Prof. Brenda Gunderson presented the findings of University’s Textbook Task Force, a committee created in December in response to student concerns about textbook prices, to the Michigan Student Assembly last night.
According to Gunderson, the task force found that the best way to lower the overall cost of textbooks without hurting local bookstores is to encourage professors to select their texts earlier, which will allow students to save money by using the used book market.
According to a study by the task force, which is operated by the Office of the Provost, the University ranked 38th of 39 colleges in how early professors order their textbooks. Gunderson said earlier book ordering would give bookstores more time to order books from wholesalers without paying high shipping costs so they can get the books in time to sell them to students.
Gunderson said the University should encourage professors to release their booklists early by creating an online database for textbooks on CTools. Professors would be required to upload the titles of book selections, their ISBN numbers and any other notes, like the number of available copies at the library and whether they prefer a particular edition. This would give the chance to see what books are required for each class as soon as they enroll, Gunderson said.
The task force also plans to implement a program called “UBooks,” a service that would link to CTools and let students list which books they want to sell. Students will be able to sell the books for more money than campus bookstores offer during buyback periods and also charge lower prices than the stores – saving money for both the buyer and seller.
The task force is now beginning to implement the textbook tool and to tell professors how important it is that they release their textbook selections early. Gunderson said feedback from faculty has been positive.
The task force plans to launch UBooks within either CTools or Wolverine Access by the spring with the tools completely operational by winter semester of 2009.