Faculty Textbook Adoption Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I determine a title's availability?
- Why don't you order based on the estimated enrollment alone?
- How do you determine the number of books ordered?
- What do you do if you run out of textbooks?
- What can I do to help avoid or solve problems?
- Why are early adoptions important?
- Are there any guidelines on textbook costs?
- How long does it take for books to arrive?
- What are the options if a book is unavailable or out-of-print?
- How do I request a desk copy?
- How do I order non-textbook materials?
If you need to check the availability of a particular title, we recommend you use Books in Print as commercial websites such as Amazon and Indigo often have inaccurate pricing and availability information, sometimes listing books that are out-of-print, not obtainable in a timely fashion or in sufficient quantities.
Our goal is to ensure that each student has all the required materials they need, when they need them at the most reasonable price we can deliver.
We generally do not order one book for every student as sell-through on textbooks is rarely ever 100% of enrollment and excessive returns to publishers are expensive.
While we do budget to have some surplus inventory keep in mind it costs 10% to 15% of the cost of the book to return it to the publisher, more if the publisher charges restocking fees. When you add up labour, freight and associated paperwork processing costs, the average cost of returning a text that hasn't sold is about $10 per book.
Ordering decisions are based on:
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- Estimated enrollment in the course
- The "optional" status of the book
- Sales history of that particular text and other texts for the course
- Cost of the book
- The likelihood of other copies on campus
- The availability of the material in an eBook format
- Additional copies needed for purchase for…
- Your own use.
- TA's use.
- To put on reserve in the Library.
We try to determine how many students still need books and then order them straight away. We realize that being without the required text is a serious issue for students and for you, and when that happens, we try to react immediately and get the books in as fast as possible.
If you know enrollment next term is likely to differ from past terms, you plan on using the text in a different manner or that the text is available in eBook format, please let us know when you place your adoption. If new information comes to light after you have placed your adoption please contact us as soon as possible.
Getting your adoptions in early is another way you can help avoid or solve problems. Not only does it give us sufficient time to have the books delivered an early adoption means we can:
- Source multiple vendors to get the best price
- Get the text on the Buyback list.
If we know which texts you will use in the fall far enough in advance to do the research we will make sure those titles are on the buyback list at the end of the term. Buyback is a critical part of keeping prices low.
- Compensate for unexpected problems.
Problems do arise. Books go out-of-print or out-of-stock and editions change. Getting your adoption early gives us time to react to the unexpected.
- Have sufficient time to contact you.
Like most people, Instructors tend to take a break and to spend some family time over the summer making it harder to reach them.
McMaster University does not have an official policy on how much the books for a course should cost. Obviously, pedagogy is more important than price. However, when asked, we give rough guidelines of $100 per course.
To keep the cost to students reasonable, we try to get as many used textbooks as possible from a variety of resources across North America.
We encourage Faculty to consider adopting older editions and / or committing to using the same text over multiple semesters. This increases the likelihood of obtaining sufficient quantities of used textbooks helping to keep the cost to students as low as possible.
The time it takes for textbooks to arrive varies greatly depending on where the books are sourced (imported foreign language books taking the longest). Your textbook buyer will be able to give you an estimated arrival date at the time of your adoption.
- Used copies.
If the book hasn't been out of print long, we may be able to find adequate quantities of used copies.
- Placing copies on reserve in the Library.
If the context of the course allows placing textbooks on reserves may be an easy solution and will also save your students money. They can photocopy portions of the book (up to 10% without breaking copyright law) for their own personal use.
- Reprinting the book.
Getting permission to do this can be a convoluted process, or it can be relatively easy. We pay the copyright holder royalties that then are added to the cost of printing, and we sell them at a small mark-up in the Campus Store. Unfortunately this often costs about the same as the "real" book and it has no resale value.
If you would like to investigate reprinting a textbook please contact our Custom Courseware Department
Desk copies are typically requested directly from the Publisher. Because publishers often ask for course-specific information with the requests, new desk and review copy requests are best handled by the faculty and the departments.
We have provided a list of contact information for various Publishers to help facilitate your requests.
If an old edition has been adopted, or all used copies were acquired for a course; contact the Course Materials Department about desk copies.
Many courses require that students come prepared for class with specialized materials such as lab coats, technical pencils, journals or dissecting kits.
Our Supplies Department is on hand to work with you to ensure all the necessary supplies are in stock and available for the students and ensure your students know these are part of your text list. We do not stock these items unless we are requested to do so.
To adopt non-text materials you can either...
- Download and fill out the Specialized Course Materials Adoption Form and fax to (905) 572-7160
- Drop into the store and talk to one of our supply buyers in person
- Contact the Supplies Department by phone or email
phone: (905) 525-9140 ext. 22622