March 1–3, 2006
ITEM 130-105-R0306 ISBN Numbers and Textbooks
THAT: The Board of Regents of Higher Education approves the proposed new policy on textbooks for the Montana University System. The policy is attached to this item.
If adopted, the policy will have an effective date of Fall Semester 2006.
EXPLANATION: The Academic & Student Affairs Committee of the Montana Board of Regents spent time, at both the September and November 2005 Regents’ meetings, discussing the “cost of textbooks” issue. Several possible actions were considered, but the one that seemed to make the most sense to the most people was a System-wide practice of posting ISBN numbers for all classroom materials so students can shop around for the materials.
The ISBN number is the identifying number for textbooks and other literary materials. With that number, students could try to buy the book from another source. Or they could decide that the purchase price at the campus bookstore is more than reasonable, given the convenience and immediate availability of the materials. Regardless of what happens, students would have more information to make a purchase decision. At least one bookstore in the Montana University System already follows this practice. The proposed policy would require all bookstores to do so.
The policy does have drawbacks. The MUS bookstores may lose textbook sales, and because of this policy, they will be providing the information that makes that possible. The posted ISBN numbers, under this policy, will correspond to textbooks available in the bookstores, based on faculty textbook adoption decisions. The same textbook, with additional (or fewer) features like CDs and study guides, typically have different ISBN numbers. Students will have to find the ISBN number for those different textbook versions on their own.
After weighing all of these advantages and disadvantages, however, the attached policy is being proposed for adoption by the Montana Board of Regents.