HD27 - A Report on Textbook Purchasing Practices and Costs in the Commonwealth

Executive Summary:
[The executive summary can be read in the full report.]


HJ 668, passed by the 2005 Virginia General Assembly, directed the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) to study both the costs of textbooks and the textbook purchasing practices of the public institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth. The resolution specifically requested SCHEV to (i) conduct a sample survey of public and private college students in Virginia regarding the costs of textbooks each semester; (ii) review and analyze the textbook purchasing policies of the public institutions of higher education and develop and disseminate best practices for textbook purchasing; and (iii) review unique laws and alternatives being considered or that have been implemented by institutions of higher education in Virginia and other states to reduce the financial burden of textbook costs to students and their families.

SCHEV took seriously both the language and the spirit of the resolution and, thus, engaged in a number of activities designed to review the national landscape, as well as to examine current practices in Virginia. First, the agency conducted two surveys: the first, as the legislation mandated, of public and private postsecondary students; and the second, a survey of bookstore managers. Second, SCHEV staff convened a meeting of relevant stakeholders engaged in textbook purchasing, retailing, and publishing, including representatives from the student advocacy group VA21,SCHEV's Student Advisory Committee (SAC), the National Association of College Stores (NACS), Barnes and Noble College Bookstores, the Association of American Publishers, the Faculty Senate of Virginia, and the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). Third, SCHEV reviewed the current textbook purchasing practices of the Commonwealth's public institutions of higher education, as well as popular national purchasing practices. (SCHEV will disseminate these practices directly to the institutions through wide-spread distribution of this report.) Fourth, the agency reviewed national trends, as well as legislation on the horizon in textbook purchasing.