Shepherd U. offers low-cost alternative to print textbooks

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Tina Miller, of Shepherd University, says some students try to pass courses without books because of the cost.

When fall classes resume at on August 26, some students will have a new, more cost-effective way to purchase their textbooks.

Shepherd is partnering with Follett, which operates the campus bookstore, and with several publishers to offer IncludeED, which provides textbooks to students in a wide variety of classes in a way that will yield significant savings by automatically sending them electronically to the university’s course management system, Sakai, and billing students’ accounts.

“The beauty of the program is that it helps create student success because everybody has the course materials,” said Tina Miller, Shepherd University Bookstore manager.

“A lot of students today will try to get through classes without books because of the cost, or they will try to find books on their own through other online sources, which they won’t be able to get until two or three weeks after classes start.”

Shepherd is launching IncludeED in 19 classes this fall, including eight in the math department, four in accounting, four in business administration, two in the M.B.A. program, and the Fitness for Life class.

“Where this program works best is for core curriculum classes—courses with high enrollments, freshman and sophomore courses, and courses where the material is consistent across all sections,” said Jack Shaw, vice president for campus services.

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“We’d love to have a good portion of the freshman and sophomore curriculum on IncludeED in the next couple of years.”

Shaw and Miller say the program, which the company is in the process of re-branding as Follett ACCESS, will save students a substantial amount of money compared to purchasing from the bookstore and outside vendors. For example, sections of Pearson “MyLab Math” for Math 101 cost $70 from IncludeEd, compared to $140 at the bookstore and $126.65 when ordered directly from the publisher. “Fundamentals of Accounting,” which is used in Accounting 201, is $111.60 from IncludeED and $193.50 from the bookstore.

The additional benefit to the program is that students do not have to shop for textbooks and their textbooks are available to them ahead of their first day of class.

“The last couple of years our market share of textbooks on this campus has dwindled to below 40 percent,” Shaw said.

“That is not entirely due to the Amazons of the world. What is troubling is we’re finding more and more students are not buying course materials because they simply don’t have the money, and our data show a substantial number of those students do not feel good about that decision. They feel less prepared and would like to have the course materials. This is the least expensive way to get the course materials, and we’re quite sure that will solve the problems of students not having their course materials.”

Students in courses with IncludeED will have access to the materials before classes begin. The course schedule indicates which classes have IncludeED. Students will get an email about 30 days before classes start informing them that IncludeED materials are available on Sakai and their accounts will be charged. They are given the opportunity to opt-out.

“We’re trying to be as transparent and helpful as possible and to let student fully know what’s happening,” Miller said. “Typically, in Follett stores that have an all-inclusive access program, about 90-95 percent or more of the students stay in the program. If those statistics hold true at Shepherd, having our students ready and successful I think is a huge advantage.”

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