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Textbook Alternatives

Alternatives to Traditional Textbooks

Open Access Textbooks
Open access textbooks allow students to read texts online for free. Higher quality (sometimes peer reviewed) open access texts are becoming available. See the Open Access Texts page.

Alternative Textbooks
Some new entrants to the textbook market offer students the choice of very inexpensive e-texts or low cost print versions of the same. These publishers' low cost models mean that they don't send publisher's reps to your office, so you need to investigate via publisher web sites. See the Alternative Texts page.

University Press, Scholarly, or Trade Books
University Presses publish high quality texts that are often more reasonably priced--the same can be true of scholarly associations and some small academic or technical publishers that specialize in a particular subject area. Trade books are usually less expensive than traditional texts and may work well for some classes. The library may have some scholarly or trade books available as library e-books. We've created a way to search for these. See the University Presses page.

Library E-books & Chapters from Library E-books
Library e-books can be read via an internet browser with an Ferris login. It may be feasible to assign chapters from different e-books. There can be advantages and disadvantages to assigning library e-books as course readings. See the Library E-books page.

Links to Articles in the Library's Collection
When the library has an article in electronic form, you can provide a link to students and save them the cost of course-packs. See the Online Articles page for details on how to do this successfully.

Open Educational Resources - OERs
OERs, are classroom and study materials that are available online that can be reused and modified for educational purposes by others. See the OER page for more info.

We've also gathered together resources to help you find two specific types of OERs:  shared syllabi and online videos.

Academic Freedom & Disciplinary Diversity

Academic Freedom
It is important that faculty have the freedom to choose the most effective course materials. Sometimes the ability to combine chapters, articles, and OERs from various sources will enhance a faculty member's options to design the best course. Also, healthy competition among numerous publishers will provide more options than a market dominated by a few large textbook publishers.

Disciplinary Diversity
Disciplines often use different types of materials for both scholarship and teaching. The humanities have always relied less on standard texts (and the course materials tend to be less expensive); some disciplines rely heavily on articles for course readings; standard texts work well for some other fields. It's important both to use the type of materials that work best for teaching in a field AND to consider the effects of course material costs on students.

Faculty Authored Texts
It can be appropriate to assign a self-authored text, but asignment of self-authored texts may involve ethical considerations. See AAUP statement below.

The Problem with Custom Editions & Code Packaged Textbooks

Is your textbook too expensive?

Free the Textbook!

 65% of students decided not to purchase a text when the price was too high--and a majority of those students were "significantly concerned" that not purchasing the text would harm their performance. [2013 Survey by Public Interest Research Group]

From 1978 - 2005, textbook prices rose at rates higher than new home prices, and even higher than medical expenses. [BLS] 

From 2002-2012 textbook prices rose 82%, tuition and fees 89%, and general consumer prices 28%. [GAO based on BLS data]

The effects on FSU students are severe: Frequently texts for even 100-200 level classes fall in the $100-260 range, presenting a formidable barrier for low income students.

Many FSU students immediately fall behind, while waiting for financial aid payments or for a cheaper text ordered online to arrive.

Some use out-of-date previous editions or cheaper foreign editions, which may omit content found in U.S. editions.

Some attempt the course without a text.

Others postpone courses due to expenses. In U.S.PIRG's 2013 poll, "nearly half of all students surveyed said that the cost of textbooks impacted how many/which classes they took each semester."

If we can lower the textbook expense barrier, more students may succeed and we may improve time to graduation rates.



Historically, textbooks are NOT purchased by the FLITE Library.