INSIGHT - Lowering the Cost of Textbooks Through On-time Adoption Submissions

FOLLETT INSIGHT: Lowering the Cost of Textbooks Through On-time Adoption Submissions

Over the past decade, the cost of higher education has continued to rise faster than income growth, posing significant challenges for students and families struggling to afford a college degree.

The bulk of expenses can be divided into five main categories: tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses and transportation.
The largest expense, tuition and fees, has continued to steadily increase over the past 30 years. Students at public four-year institutions paid an average of $3,190 in tuition for the 1987–1988 school year, with prices adjusted to reflect 2017 dollars. Thirty years later, that average has risen to $9,970 for the 2017–2018 school year. That’s a 213 percent increase.*

According to the College Board, for the 2017–2018 school year, students will have spent between $20,770 to $46,950 on average for tuition, fees and room
and board, depending on the type of school they attend.* Add $4,055 on average for required course materials and additional expenses such as local
transportation, clothing, personal items, entertainment and more, and the cost of one year of college ranges from $25,005 to $51,185.1

With these costs in mind, students are actively looking for avenues to find relief and avoid additional expenses, often cutting corners on basic needs
in order to save money. Colleges and universities across the country are actively looking for ways to help their students address these rising costs,
particularly with textbooks.

An immediate opportunity lies with faculty who play a critical role in affecting the cost of course materials in two ways:

1. Through the titles they select during the adoption process and 

2. By the promptness of their adoption submissions. In this article we will focus on the impact that faculty can have on the cost of course materials through
on-time adoption submissions.

In this article we will focus on the impact that faculty can have on the cost of course materials through on-time adoption submissions.

Timing Drives Everything

Timely adoption submissions present a low-effort, high-impact opportunity for reducing the cost of textbooks.

In order to fully maximize student savings opportunities, faculty members need to submit their adoptions for the upcoming term by the designated due date. This
timing has a significant impact on costs, starting at textbook buyback. When the campus store knows that a particular title has been readopted for the following term, it is able to offer students as much as 50% of the purchase price to buy back their book and stock for the next term’s students.2 Conversely, if the title has not been readopted, the campus store may not be able to buy back the book at all. 

Timing of submissions also impacts inventory. We stock our shelves based on the course material adoptions for that term, ensuring that every book needed in
the classroom is available for purchase. 

The ability to source used editions provides a substantial savings opportunity to students as these books are often priced 25% off the cost of new. For Follett
managed stores, used books are sourced not only from the local campus but also from their network of 1,200+ stores. It is important to note that since used books are limited, campus store orders are fulfilled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sourcing new books is not only more expensive but can also take a substantial amount of time to stock, depending on the publisher’s availability. On average,
it takes 10 to 30 days from order submission to placement on store shelves. When adoptions aren’t submitted until just before the term starts, the number
of affordable course material options available to students is greatly reduced. And if needed quantities aren’t readily available, your students may struggle
to be prepared for the first day of class.

The timing of adoption submissions impacts the store’s ability to:

  • Source enough books to cover enrolled students.
  • Source money-saving used and rental editions.
  • Have books stocked for when students are ready to purchase. For new students, purchasing often takes place during orientation.

Faculty and School Benefits

Submitting adoptions by the designated due date provides tangible benefits to both the faculty and the school. On-time adoption submissions:
1. Can save students up to 80% on their course materials.
2. Provide the campus store with enough time to source the materials you want and work with you to alleviate any sourcing issues.
3. Enable the school to follow HEOA compliance regulations by having textbook information available prior to early registration.
4. Ensure that all adopted materials are available when students are ready to purchase, enabling purchases to stay on campus and the school to obtain the commission that is used to support its academic mission.
5. Enable students to obtain your required materials before the term starts, making them ready to learn from day one.

Short-Term Solution with a Big Impact
Affordability and options are two by-products of on-time adoption submissions. Until the cost of a college education stagnates and begins to decrease, more and more students will find themselves at a crossroads — do they spend their limited funds on potentially costly course materials, or do they take a chance on not purchasing and risk performing poorly in the class?

By submitting course material adoptions on time, faculty has the ability to eliminate this dilemma and not only assist students in saving money but also ensure that the right books can be obtained for the first day of classes.

About Follett Higher Education Group
Our purpose is to “Improve the World by Inspiring Learning and Shaping Education.” For over 145 years, we have been doing just that by bringing together affordable educational content, products and technologies to prepare learners and educators, term after term. Follett manages all formats of affordability programs at more than 900 campuses worldwide, resulting in lower costs and better access to learning materials. We are proud to serve as a trusted partner that fosters higher student success rates and influences positive outcomes.

For more information about what Follett is doing to make learning materials more affordable, visit

1 "Trends in College Pricing 2017",

2 “Textbook Adoption Recommended Practices,” Anne Arundel Community College,