Faculty Textbook Adoption Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I determine a title's availability?
If you need to check the availability of a particular title, we recommend you use Books in Print. Because we order directly from publishers and distributors and not from other bookstores such as Amazon and Indigo, other commercial websites do not accurately reflect pricing, availability and in-print status.
- Why don't you order based on the estimated enrollment alone?
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.
While we do budget to have some surplus inventory, we generally do not order one book for every student as sell-through on textbooks is rarely ever 100% of enrollment. Excessive returns to publishers are very costly.
- How do you determine the number of books ordered?
Ordering decisions are based on:
- Enrollment in the course
- The status of the book i.e. Required or Optional and information on how the book is used in the course
- Sales history of that particular text and other texts for the course
- Cost of the book
- The likelihood of other copies on campus and availability of used books
- The availability of the material in an eBook or loose-leaf format
- An open book exam in the course
- What do you do if you run out of textbooks?
We try to determine how many students still need books and then order them straight away. Our team keep an eye on stock levels throughout the term and determine when an order is needed. 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.
- What can I do to help avoid or solve problems?
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.
- Why are early adoptions important?
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 and negotiate with publishers to get the best price
- Get the text on the Sellback list.
If we know which texts you will use far enough in advance we will make sure those titles are on the Sellback list. Sellback is a critical part of keeping prices low and give students a chance to get the best price for books they want to sell after they have finished a course. It allows us to source used copies on campus, saving on shipping time and costs and most importantly puts money back into the pockets of McMaster students!
- 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.
- Source alternate formats
Many publishers offer their titles in a variety of formats. With sufficient time, we can source these different formats (i.e. eBooks, loose-leaf, packages etc.) that will give students options so they can select the materials that best suit their budget and learning style.
- Are there any guidelines on textbook costs?
McMaster University does not have an official policy on how much the books for a course should cost, and ultimately 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 secure a balance of new and used materials from a variety of resources across North America.
We encourage Faculty to commit to using the same textbook over multiple semesters allowing students to sell back their textbooks if they choose.
We are always happy to assist with finding suitable course materials for your course.
- How long does it take for books to arrive?
The time it takes for textbooks to arrive varies greatly depending on where the books are sourced (imported foreign language books taking the longest). If you place your adoption by the suggested deadlines, we aim to have the books in stock by the time the booklist is posted live on our site (about 3 weeks before a term starts). If there are delays that will prevent your books from arriving by the first week of class, we will let you know.
- What are the options if a book is unavailable or out-of-print?
- Used copies.
If the book hasn't been out of print long, given enough notice, 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
- Reprinting the book.
We are happy to investigate securing permissions to reprint an out of print book. It can be a convoluted process, and often it takes time to track down and contact a rights holder. We have been successful in negotiating agreements with rights holders to reprint out of print books. There is typically a cost associated with doing so, which we factor into the cost of the courseware. Sometimes copyright fees are cost prohibitive, but we try our best to negotiate.
The other option would be to combine a chapter or excerpts from the out of print book with other works to create a custom reading package for your students.
If you would like to investigate reprinting a textbook or creating custom courseware, please contact the Custom Courseware team at the Library.
- Used copies.
- How do I request a desk copy?
Desk copies are requested directly from the Publisher.
We have provided a list of contact information for various Publishers to help facilitate your requests. Please let us know if you need assistance in contact a publisher to request a desk copy.
- How do I order non-textbook materials?
Many courses require that students come prepared for class with specialized supplies such as lab coats, goggles, notebooks, mineral kits, technical pencils, journals or dissecting kits.
We want to ensure that all the necessary course supplies are in stock and available for the students. If you let us know what your students need we will include them in the booklist along with the rest of your course materials. We do not stock these items unless we are requested to do so.
To adopt Required Supplies you can either...
- Include the details in your course materials adoption
- Submit an adoption directly to the Required Supplies Buyer by email firstname.lastname@example.org
- How do I get in touch with the Course Materials Department?
Phone: 905-525-9140 ext. 21913
In person – our office is located in the Campus Store in Gilmour Hall