Alternatives to commercial textbooks
Lack of student access to course texts due to their high cost is an increasing problem at Grinnell and many other colleges and universities in the United States. The high cost and publishing practices which encourage frequent new editions have left many students searching for ways to manage or avoid the cost.  Frequently, these ways end in students not having access to textbooks, when needed.

The Instructional Support Committee encourages you to be mindful of costs when selecting texts for students to purchase, and to explore alternatives to traditional commercially available texts where possible and appropriate for your classes.


*Instead of the newest edition of a textbook, consider a recent older edition if the content is still acceptable for the course.  Recent editions are often still widely available and can be purchased by students at a lower cost.

For help in identifying an older edition of a textbook, please contact Kevin Engel.

*There may also be alternatives to a textbook from a large for-profit publisher (open access or lower cost).

For help in identifying alternatives, please check resources like the Open Textbook Library, Textbook Affordability Project, and Open SUNY Textbooks--or contact Kevin Engel.  For a lower-cost option that allows you to adopt or customize a textbook, check out Flatworld Knowledge (please keep in mind that customized textbooks often don't have a market as a used book).

*Instead of a commercial textbook, consider a virtual coursepack--selected articles and/or chapters that can be made available to students through e-reserve.  The Libraries license online access to tens of thousands of journals, magazines, newspapers, and books.

For questions and assistance in identifying articles and chapters in the online resources licensed on campus, please contact your Consulting Librarian.

*Other alternatives or web sites that you have used successfully?  Please let us know.
Subject Specialist
Picture: Kevin Engel

Kevin Engel
Science Librarian
Tel: 641-269 4234