When registration for Winter Term begins two weeks from now, students will be able to see textbook lists for some classes while building a class schedule on Wolverine Access.

A program called UBook, slated to launch next week, will allow faculty to create textbook lists and distribute the lists to the bookstore of their choice. The service will allow students to access the lists while choosing classes and find used books from other University students.

The program, which was a year and a half in the making, comes during a time in which textbook prices have tripled in past 20 years, according to the U.S. News and World Report. Before, students often received their textbook requirements on the first day of class, making it too late for them to obtain cheaper copies via the Internet.

Though UBook is intended to give students earlier notice so they can shop around and save money on their books, professors won’t be required to use the system.

Gretchen Weir, assistant vice provost for academic affairs, said she thinks many faculty members will use it, but the University didn’t want to require them to do so.

“We expect that as many faculty as can will comply with both using the tool and ordering early,” she said. “It isn’t the Michigan way to take any decision about pedagogy out of the hands of the faculty members.”

Weir said many professors don’t use textbooks and that some courses might require the most current edition of textbooks, which could make it difficult for some professors to release textbook lists early.
Weir said individual schools within the University were welcome to implement stricter regulations.

“No one in central administration believes they know better than the individual faculty about textbook choices or the timing of textbook choices,” she said.

Beginning Nov. 10, students will also be able to view textbook lists for classes they are enrolled in through CTools. The lengthy implementation is the result of substantial upgrades to Michigan Administrative Information Services and M-Pathways, which oversee the University’s information systems.

Weir said the new application will make it possible to track how many professors are posting books online and how many students are selling textbooks using UBook.

“This term, as things are being rolled out, is really too early,” she said. “I think we’ll really be able to tell how the campus has embraced it next term.”

Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs, said he was proud the student-initiated project will soon become a reality.

LSA sophomore Matt Hillyer said he felt the application would be useful, adding that he purchased the wrong edition of a book this semester because of a lack of clarity from his professor.

“I ended up spending over $250 for a class that I definitely did not need to,” he said.

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