|The bookstore, often the first stop for students searching for course materials, is well positioned to collect information about open textbook adoptions and sell printed copies to those who want or need them.
The bookstore contains the campus experts on textbooks and materials required for its institution’s courses. Bookstore staff note faculty adoptions, stock and manage inventory, and assist students buying these resources, while simultaneously maximizing student savings and attending to student concerns.
Post-secondary bookstores have also had to keep up with the times as sales from textbooks have eroded due to digital books, books for rent, the used market, and big box and discount online stores. To survive, campus bookstores — which, decades ago, carried mostly textbooks — have downsized and diversified by carrying products like clothing and snacks. Rajiv Jhangiani, Associate Vice Provost of Open Education at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, says that on-campus print-on-demand options provide a new potential revenue stream for bookstores.
University and college bookstores can, and often do, work with their campus’s print service to arrange for print-on-demand copies of open textbooks and other educational resources. These arrangements might involve individual orders from students or bulk orders requested by instructors for courses. Mark Adams, Director of Ancillary Services for Langara College, is responsible for overseeing bookstore and print services operations at his college bookstore, where he says students continually request hard copies of books.
“Giving students options,” he says, “is ideal.”
The below list of considerations is a starting point for bookstore and course materials managers and staff to explore this topic.
- Does the bookstore have an established and clear communication channel with its faculty about how and when to report textbook and course material adoptions?
- Are faculty required to report open textbook adoptions, even though digital versions are free to students?
- Do faculty know they can and should report the assignment of an open textbook to the bookstore?
- What steps do faculty need to follow if they want the bookstore to provide printed copies of open textbooks assigned to a course?
- Should the bookstore’s online textbook list include open textbooks (even if free)?
- Should it be standard practice to print a set amount of assigned open textbooks for each course to display on the bookstore shelves for students to buy?
- Will courses assigned an open textbook be tagged with this information in the online store, thus allowing students to search for courses using OER?
- Will open textbooks assigned to courses that are part of the institution’s ZTC programs be included?
- Will a print-on-demand option be included in the description?
- What factors will determine the cost of pre-printed open textbooks?
- Will these prices differ from print-on-demand orders?
- Will discounts be offered for bulk orders?
- Will printed open textbooks be specially marked or labelled on bookstore shelves?
- Will the book come with a note and a link indicating that it’s available for free online?
- Will an explanation about open-copyright licences be provided?
- Will returns of printed open textbooks be permitted? During what time frame?
- What form will refunds take? Cash refund? Rain check? Exchange?
- Will printed open textbooks be eligible for the bookstore’s buyback program?
- Will this apply to all used open textbooks, or must they fit certain criteria, such as subject area, original text vs. faculty adaptation, book format (bound, loose leaf, Cerlox binding)?
- Will there be a website or physical space — either bookstore-run or student-sponsored — for selling used open textbooks?
Asking faculty to report open textbooks as adoptions — even if the online version is free — helps students who look to the bookstore for assistance identifying and gathering course materials. Below are two templates that can assist the bookstore in this effort:
Bookstores in action
University of British Columbia (UBC)
The UBC Bookstore has a page called Instructors: Course Materials Resources that includes a section on OER and links to open repositories. The bookstore also posts links to open repositories on the list of UBC Vancouver Publisher Contacts and allows instructors to place orders for open resources. A procedure is in place to add this information to student book lists and the course registration website, according to Jennifer Stacey, Course Materials Manager. If a faculty member lets the bookstore know they are using an open resource, the bookstore will provide printed copies if printable files are available and the material can be properly bound.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU)
In KPU’s LibGuide on open educational resources, there is a page with a print on demand setup tutorial video that instructs faculty to submit to the KPU printshop print-optimized PDF files for open textbooks selected for their course. Students pay for these books in the bookstore or online and can pick up their order 24–48 hours later, using the rain check procedure. Books are available in loose-leaf format.
At the Douglas College Bookstore, the Open Education Resource Assistance section of the Douglas College faculty intranet provides this guidance to instructors:
Douglas College Bookstore is committed to the accessibility and affordability of course materials. In addition to digital initiatives and involvement with national associations that enable us to find lower cost alternatives, we also actively support the Open Educational Resource movement. If OER materials are adopted, students who wish to print the material may quickly use their allotment of free printing. If you would like the OER materials available for students to have in printed form, the Bookstore can, dependent upon the rights associated with the material, reproduce the materials into a physical Coursepack. The Coursepack could be listed as optional for the course and be available for sale at the Bookstore in a double sided format. To begin this process, please contact the Coursepack & Copyright Coordinator. If the OER materials are available in printed format direct from OpenStax, the materials can be purchased by the store for sale as an optional item for the course. As OERs continue to evolve, so will the Bookstore, but here are a few things that we are doing right now to assist with this initiative:
- We include listings of required OERs on our Booklist so students can see all required course materials “at-a-glance” (on their personalized booklist).
- The Bookstore can provide inexpensive print-on-demand options for students who prefer to study and make notes in traditional print form.
- The Bookstore collaborates with faculty members and educational departments to ensure that OER communication and delivery is optimized.
- The Bookstore is dedicated to keeping up-to date on new trends in OERs to ensure we are able to adjust and add services that will improve the student experience on our campus.
The Bookstore–Library Partnership
Many post-secondary bookstores have strong relationships with their campus’s libraries, particularly when it comes to how each department can support the usage and availability of open educational resources in both digital and printed formats.
Inba Kehoe, Copyright Officer, Scholarly Communication & Research Repository Librarian at the University of Victoria, says this about the situation at her institution:
The UVic Bookstore has been a great partner with UVic Libraries for quite a long time, and I am particularly grateful for their open and collegial partnership. We meet with the bookstore manager and the course materials manager on a monthly basis and cover issues related to copyright, library open access monograph publishing, OER textbook print on demand, future badging in the textbook catalogue, transitioning faculty away from print course packs to licensed electronic resources, etc. The UVic Bookstore’s primary goal is to help the students wherever they can, and staff have worked collaboratively with us on open access and education initiatives that would help lower the costs of course materials. I believe that we have the longest and strongest library–bookstore partnership in Canada.
- Acorn Oak Brown © svklimkin is used under a Pixabay License and is adapted by Lauri Aesoph
- Rosanna Tamburri, “University Bookstores Change with the Times,” University Affairs, April 8, 2015, https://www.universityaffairs.ca/news/news-article/university-bookstores-change-with-the-times/. ↵