Textbook Submission

How do I submit textbook orders?

Email your order to Lisa Tackett (lktacket@owu.edu) at the Bookstore.

What if I haven’t figured out all of my textbook orders yet? Is it OK to submit partial orders?

If you’re not yet sure you will be ordering a textbook, you should definitely not submit an order for it. However, it is preferable to submit a partial order on time than waiting to submit a complete textbook order late. Please just inform Lisa Tackett (lktacket@owu.edu) that the order is incomplete and when you expect to be able to submit the remainder. This way, the University will be able to post the textbook information it has and students will be able to see the textbook information that is available.

What should I do if I don’t know whether a textbook I’m interested in will be available by the start of the semester (for example, in the case of a new textbook or edition)?

In this case, submit a partial order for all of the textbooks you know you will be using, and inform Lisa Tackett (lktacket@owu.edu) of the special circumstances involving the book in question. She can work with you on a strategy for dealing with this special case.

What should I do if I am not ordering any textbooks?

Please let the Lisa Tackett (lktacket@owu.edu) know; that way she will know not to expect your order.


What should I do if I am assigning a textbook, but it is used or out-of-print? (i.e., if I anticipate that the Bookstore may not want to stock it)

Please still inform Lisa Tackett (lktacket@owu.edu) of your textbook order, as it is still necessary to post textbook information for the purpose of observing the HEOA. Also, the Bookstore may ultimately decide that it wants to purchase a few copies to have on hand, even if doesn’t order a full supply.

Why is the textbook submission deadline so early?

There are several reasons (see questions below) , but the most pressing is that the Bookstore needs textbook orders in by that date in order to comply with the federal law. In 2008, Congress renewed the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA). Among the new provisions added to the HEOA is the following: 

“[E]ach institution of higher education receiving Federal financial assistance shall...disclose, on the institution’s Internet course schedule...the International Standard Book Number and retail price information of required and recommended college textbooks and supplemental materials for each course listed in the institution’s course schedule used for preregistration and registration purposes...” --Section 133(d) Section 133(d)

 In order for the Registrar to be able to post textbook information online at the start of registration, the Bookstore must have enough time to process textbook orders.

Why do we need to comply with the HEOA?

Besides wanting to obey the law, a university is in danger of losing Federal financial assistance if it fails to observe the HEOA. As we at TLCCP are not lawyers, we cannot comment on the likelihood of that happening, but it still seems best to try to avoid it.

I’ve heard that the HEOA includes an “escape clause” which renders the textbook submission deadline meaningless. Is this true?

Not really. It is true that the Act says each institution should post textbook information online “to the maximum extent practicable” and allows institutions to withhold textbook information “if the institution determines that the disclosure of the information described in this subsection is not practicable for a college textbook or supplemental material.” However, the language of the Act (“a textbook,” as opposed to all textbooks, and its reference to “supplemental material,” for which it may be impossible to provide ISBN or exact pricing information) suggests that such cases will be exceptions rather than the rule.

What are the consequences of submitting textbook orders late for faculty?

Most obviously, if a textbook is ordered late, it may arrive late, interfering with your class. 

Also, when a textbook is ordered late, it increases the likelihood that students will order it online. It doesn’t seem like this would affect faculty members, but indirectly it may. You may have noticed that the Bookstore doesn’t always order enough books for every student in a class. This is partly because it expects that some students will purchase their books online, but also because the Bookstore makes its decisions about how many copies of a textbook to order based on past sales. If students don’t buy a textbook at the start of the semester because it isn’t on the Bookstore’s shelves, then this drives down the number of sales, which in turn results in the Booktore ordering fewer copies of the book in the future. (And it is important for financial reasons that the Bookstore not be left with a bunch of unpurchased textbooks—see below.) Occasionally, faculty get irritated by there not being as many copies of their books on the Bookstore’s shelves as they would like, but in some cases this reduction in the number of texts is a result of faculty members’ past failures to order books on time.

What are the consequences of submitting textbook orders late for students?

Besides inconvenience, there are several financial consequences of late textbook orders for students. 

First, if a textbook order is turned in late, the Bookstore may not be able to get used copies for students, as they get scooped up by other schools first.

Second, the Bookstore may not be able to get rental copies of books for students, as there are also a finite number of copies available for rental.

Third, students may not be able to sell back textbooks they don’t want to keep during the buyback period at the end of the semester, because unless the Bookstore knows that a book is going to be used again in the following semester, it isn’t able to offer students as much money for it, and also can’t buy back as many copies it, as it can’t afford to get stuck with a bunch of books that it can’t sell. Thus, students are only able to get a fraction of the price that they might have received if the textbook order had been submitted earlier.

What are the consequences of submitting textbook orders late for OWU?

Besides the obvious inconveniences involved, there are once again financial consequences.

First, and most obviously, if a book gets ordered late then there may be expedited shipping costs to ensure that the book gets here in time for the start of the semester.

Second, if a book order is submitted late, and as a result isn’t in the Bookstore when students come to look for it—or if they are available, but only as new copies because used copies and rentals were no longer available—then that greatly increases the chances that students will simply get the books elsewhere. Because OWU receives a portion of the Bookstore’s profits, empty shelves = lost profit for OWU.

Third, if students end up buying textbooks elsewhere because they are not available at the Bookstore at the start of the semester, then the Bookstore may be left with a lot of unpurchased textbooks once the orders finally come in, and now a new challenge emerges: how to get rid of the surplus textbooks.

In the past, Bookstores were allowed to return unpurchased copies of texts to publishers. However, within the past few years, the vast majority of publishers have stopped accepting the return of unpurchased  textbooks. On average, most publishers now only allow 10-15%  of an order to be returned.

On top of that, many publishers now penalize Bookstores for returning high percentages of books. If a Bookstore returns a very low percentage it receives a high rating (e.g., “Gold”) and will offer that school discounts on future orders. If, in contrast, a bookstore consistently returns the largest allowable percentage, its rating will be downgraded (e.g., “Bronze”) and these discounts will not be withdrawn. Currently, OWU is “Bronze.”

 Faculty should understand that the cost of all unpurchased and unreturnable books must be absorbed by the bookstore. These books have to be sold off as used copies, and as a result the Bookstore may only be able to get a fraction of their original price—for example, $20 for a book that originally cost $100.

The irony of this situation is that the very books that have been packed up and returned to publishers or sold off as “used” copies will sometimes then be adopted by faculty members when their book order eventually comes in, so that the same book that has just been sold or shipped off will now need to be reordered.

According to the Bookstore’s estimates, the accumulated cost of expedited shipping for late book orders, the shipping of unpurchased books back to publishers, and of the Bookstore’s absorption of unreturnable books can range anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 per year.

 Again, it is important to point out that OWU does have a financial stake in these losses. Because OWU earns a percentage of the Bookstore’s profits, what hurts Follett’s budget also hurts ours.

Of equal concern, though, is that if Follett determines that the OWU Bookstore is unprofitable, it can pull out—and then we find ourselves saddled with the same problem we had before: the challenge of independently running a College Bookstore when bookstores themselves are rapidly disappearing.

With superior resources to devote to emerging services and technologies like rental and digital textbooks, Follett at least has a chance of keeping pace with the marketplace until the next big technological paradigm shift in learning takes place. We, on the other hand, do not.

What if my textbooks don’t appear next to my class on the online course schedule?

If you submitted your textbook order on time and it appears that there are textbook links for other courses but not for yours, please contact Lisa Tackett (lktacket@owu.edu) and let her know. Sometimes there are communication problems between the Registrar’s and Bookstore’s computer systems (e.g., your class may be listed differently in each system), and something may need to be adjusted to make your textbook list appear.

 If you submitted your textbook order late, please wait at least a week until after you submitted your order before contacting the Bookstore. After the start of the registration period, online textbook lists are usually updated at least once per week, and you may simply have missed the last update. If after a week links to your textbook lists are still not on the online course schedule, email Lisa Tackett (lktacket@owu.edu) and let her know.

This whole process could be much simpler. Why don’t you just do X?

We would be happy to hear your ideas about how to make the process of textbook submission easier. Email Lisa Tackett (lktacket@owu.edu) or the current chair of TLCCP to pass along any comments or suggestions.