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Nov. 17, 2011 Volume 33, No. 13

New online system streamlines textbook ordering process


On-time orders save students and the university money

University Bookstore now offers faculty and textbook coordinators a paperless workflow for ordering books.

A new software system makes it possible for faculty and coordinators to adopt textbooks online without having to fill out paper forms.

“We had been looking for a software solution for several years that would make it user-friendly for faculty, and we finally found one,” says Michelle Froese, public relations manager for Student and Auxiliary Services.

“We do more than 30,000 textbooks adoptions a year, so that will significantly reduce our paper usage and environmental impact,” Froese says. “But more important, I think that once faculty get into the habit of using the software, it will make the process so much easier for them.”

Faculty members received emails this week that included a link to the new system. All they need to do is save the email with the link, and they may log in as many times as necessary to view, edit and submit their textbook information each semester. A short video is included on the landing page that helps them navigate the process.

This new system provides multiple tools to assist faculty in selecting course materials. They can search by ISBN, title or keyword to get a list of matching books with cover images and do a quick check to make sure the edition is right before selecting the book with one click.

Other features include:

  • Exploring selections through integrated Google Books Preview
  • Using the same books as last term (or the term before) with one click
  • Picking books for all sections at once and making one section different
  • Selecting custom publishing or course supplies in addition to texts

Froese says that textbook adoptions for next semester have been slow to come in since the Oct. 31 deadline. “We have some adoptions in, but not as many as we would like,” she says. “We want faculty to know that there is still time to get this information to the bookstore, and we hope that the new system will make it much easier to communicate changes and additions.”

When book orders come in after the deadline, it gives the textbook department less time to research new editions or react to out-of-print and out-of-stock issues. “What a lot of faculty may not realize is that between December and Jan. 1, many publishing houses shut down for one or two weeks for their holiday vacations, which makes it difficult to get books,” Froese explains. “This is why we ask for orders so early.”

Why are timely textbook adoptions so important?

  • On-time orders can result in more lower-priced textbooks for students because they allow the bookstore more time to find used copies;
  • On-time orders mean that students can receive more money at end-of-semester buyback because the bookstore knows what books will be used the next semester;
  • On-time orders reduce the cost of expedited shipping, which saves the university money;
  • On-time orders support the university’s compliance with the textbook provision of Section 112 of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA).

The act requires institutions of higher education that receive federal financial assistance to provide students with accurate course material information, including ISBN and retail price, when available and practical for each course listed in the institution’s course schedule used for preregistration and registration purposes.

When faculty do not meet the textbook ordering deadlines, the bookstore cannot create a course module on the website, even if the course exists in the university catalog which, Froese says, can be confusing for students and also is not in compliance with HEOA. 

“Faculty spend a great deal of time and effort to select just the right course materials for their students,” Froese says. “We believe the new online system will be beneficial to our faculty, as it will make the process of submitting textbook information more efficient and more accurate.”