If you are a student, chances are you have felt the burden of expensive textbooks and supplements. You may find yourself asking, why exactly am I spending so much money on textbooks?  One leading factor is that, generally, students are not part of the process of choosing course textbooks.  Unfortunately, that process is an engrained one closely controlled by large publishers with a strong hold on the market and by the instructors they serve. Typically, students are caught in the middle of this moneymaking merry-go-round and each semester they are forced into buying required textbooks hovering near $200 per title.

But all hope is not lost! Today, instructors, students, and companies alike are working to change all this. Their efforts have produced equivalent alternatives and additional tools made available at a fraction of the price of the competition – or free altogether – effectively disrupting the antiquated traditional model of yesteryear.  So how can you get your instructor, or your school to adopt affordability? Try these techniques:

1. Talk to your Professor/Advisor

More likely than not, your teacher has a hand in what title he/she utilizes for class. Engage them in a conversation; ask the tough questions.  If they assigned you a wildly priced textbook that emptied your wallet, you might politely ask them why it was chosen. Express your feelings that the price of the book was outrageous. Tell them how it affected you. By opening the lines of communication, you can begin to challenge your instructor to find ways with which to pass savings on to their students – something both parties can smile about.

2. Reach out to Dept. Chairs/School President

Much like you would contact a political representative over an injustice – reach out to dept. heads.  Department chairs are pivotal in deciding which textbooks students within your major use. This person’s contact information can generally be found online using a faculty directory. Send them an informed and brief email or letter explaining your irritation over expensive textbooks.  Encourage your friends to do the same – or have them sign yours. Again, provide examples of affordable alternatives (the Center of Math is a good place to start). To help aid your search, visit Akademos, a textbook search tool we like very much (filter by topic and price).

Below is an email template to consider which might help get you started. 

"Dr./Prof. _______,

I am reaching out to you today to discuss the textbooks used among <your major> majors at <your school>. The cost of these titles and accompanying supplements has become an unacceptable financial burden and, consequently, a significant barricade to accessibility. I believe <your school> can do better. I would like to take the time to introduce you to some fairly priced alternatives on the market, which can be found here: (links to affordable titles). We must, as I suspect you might agree, continue to innovate and find ways to make our education more affordable and accessible.  I would jump at the opportunity to discuss the available options with you. Thank you for your considerations.


(Your name and contact info)”

3. Used books/Rentals

Change won’t occur overnight, so chances are that for now, you will encounter expensive required course books. In this case, take advantage of all the options available to save. Buy digital when available. Buy used or rent the title.  Be sure to take advantage of book buy-back programs. Popular services such as Chegg will help you. 

Having read this article, you have already begun your campaign towards affordable and accessible textbooks and resources. Remember, open the lines of communication and be prepared with solutions! Awareness is the first step to action. Thank you for your interest in the cause and considering these small steps towards redefining the industry and the incurred expenses of education for all.

To learn more about the Worldwide Center of Mathematics, click here.

Here are some additional ideas of how you can get involved:

  • Get the word out! – voice your opinion to friends and social networks. The more students are aware a take action, the greater the chance that faculty will listen.
  • Write something about the price of the textbook on your course evaluation form.
  • Reach out to student organizations related to the improvement of your school’s educational standards and present this as a pressing issue.

If you are a math instructor - are you cognizant of how much your students are spending on required course materials for the classes you teach? Undergraduate students are spending an average of $1200 on textbooks per year. Everyday, more recognize the gross exploitation of their students as this issue continues to make headlines and is a hot-topic for discussion among educators around the globe. Although these discussions have brought awareness to the issue, more faculty members must take the next step and consider adopting affordable textbooks to allow for sustainable change.

If you are a mathematics faculty member who has decided you want to save your students from textbooks they cannot afford without sacrificing quality, look no further. The following is a step-by-step approach to adopting Worldwide Center of Mathematics affordable math textbooks.

Step 1: Browse our titles. Learn more.

If you are looking for a mathematics textbook and have not yet considered our list of titles, browse our textbook page (http://centerofmath.com/textbook.html) where you will find detailed information on the text, including an overview of the title, the table of contents, price, and more information about the author. Be sure to check out the supplemental solution, lecture and introduction videos included with many of our titles.

If you find one or more titles you are interested in, you should move to the next step. If you do not, check out akademos, an online tool that helps faculty members find books to adopt. You can sort titles by price and subject to find the highest quality affordable text in your discipline. 

Step 2: Request free faculty review copies.

Now that you have found the title(s) that you are interested in, take a moment and fill out our faculty copy request form. You can either request digital copies, which will be emailed to you directly, or print copies, which we will send straight to you! We recommend exploring the digital versions, as they have direct links to video lectures and solutions on our YouTube channel, making additional content more accessible to students. Students and instructors alike recognize digital editions to be more affordable, accessible and interactive. We will verify you as a faculty member and your copy will be on its way!

You can read what other students and faculty are saying about the textbooks here.

Step 3: Recommend the title.

If after reviewing the text you find that our book is a good fit for your class or a colleague’s, bring it to the faculty member(s) who decide what course materials are used in your class. If you happen to be this decision maker, you are ready to adopt! If not, you should bring the textbook to the attention of the decision makers at your institution. Many folks ask us how they can do more - if this sounds like you, let’s talk!

Step 4: Adopt!

We want the final step to be the easiest. Reach out to us by email at info@centerofmath.org, by phone at (617) 245-0171 or your favorite social network. Ordering is easy and access even easier. We will work with you, your bookstore and/or your students to ensure every instructor and student can access their course materials!  

Thank you. We are excited to provide your students with high-quality math resources they can always access and afford!

The Death of the Textbook

Education is changing! Are textbooks necessary for learning when there are so many other quality, affordable options? We don’t think so.

We recently read this article on the death of the printed textbook industry and it brought up some great points about accessibility and affordability. We thought it was pretty great, particularly this excerpt: “The late Steve Jobs had his eye on textbooks, calling the industry "ripe for digital destruction" in Walter Isaacson’s biography.”

We couldn’t agree more. Out with the old, in with the new!

Check out our own quality digital texts (we have print too, if you really wanna go there)
and our free educational resources!

Worldwide Multivariable Calculus by David B. Massey

"Multivariable Calculus is the study of the Calculus of functions of more than one variable, and includes differential and integral aspects. The text emphasizes intuitive ideas in conjunction with rigorous statements of theorems, and provides a large number of illustrative examples. In the accompanying videos, Dr. Massey lectures on the core material from each section."

#we do digital textbooks

Learni.st: it’s our new favorite site. Want to know why? Learni.st is best described as an educational Pinterest, and that’s how we use it. We have fun boards like math swag, math food, and math humor, but we also get down to business with boards about mathematics, education technology, and  resources. The other thing we love about Learni.st is the amount of higher-ed content we see. Search “mathematics” on Pinterest and you’ll get a slew of elementary worksheets for students age 5-10, but on Learni.st search mathematics and you’ll get boards on teaching college math, research, conferences, and more. In short, Learni.st is like Pinterest’s sophisticated older brother who summers in the South of France and reads Tolstoy in his spare time. Educators in higher-ed will love Learni.st because it caters more to the scholarly types who want to get some serious information out of their social networking. For organizations like us, we can distribute our content while also learning from others.