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Stocking the shelves: How textbook adoptions impact your course materials

By The Auxiliary Services Team

As students wrap up their semesters and shift their focus to finals, vacations, jobs, internships and more, members of the Barnes & Noble @ UH bookstore staff begin to funnel more of their energy into finalizing adoptions for the next semester.

Widely known across the textbook and higher-ed industry as the process of a department, college or professor working through a bookstore to formally select course materials for classes that will be taught in an upcoming term, adoptions help ensure the bookstore knows exactly what textbooks and/or supplemental materials to order and have on store shelves on or before the first day of classes.

Given the growing number of courses offered at the University, the adoption process is a collaborative effort that involves the bookstore, the Provost’s Office, Faculty Senate, the Bookstore Advisory Committee and of course, our department.

How it works

A project as widespread as adoptions requires a lot of planning and foresight and is actually something the bookstore works on constantly, not just at the end of a semester.

To help guide the process, adoption deadlines are set twice a year – one typically around mid-October for spring semester requests and the other around mid-March for all summer/fall course materials.

This past year for example, all Spring 2017 book orders were due by Oct. 21, 2016 and all Summer/Fall 2017 requests had a deadline of March 24, 2017.

The UH Bookstore works with Academic Affairs to determine this deadline and tries to have it land just before class registration opens for the next semester. They time it this way because the roster of courses being offered in the upcoming terms should be close to final at that point; plus it’s far enough out to give the bookstore ample time to track down the requested items at the absolute lowest price.

While the deadline represents the best case scenario of when orders should be in, it’s important to note that the store continues to accept adoptions past that date, but it's in the best interest of both faculty members and students alike to get orders in as soon as possible. 

From ordering online through FacultyEnlight, an online portal, to discussing specific needs in person at the bookstore, there are a variety of ways individuals can submit an adoption request.  Our team, along with bookstore employees and other campus partners work to promote these options throughout the semester so colleges and professors alike can be in the know.

The impact on students

The most obvious impact adoptions have on students is that they determine what specific materials they'll need to purchase for an upcoming course.

The sooner they know what they'll have to buy, the sooner they can start planning their finances accordingly to cover the cost.

Adoptions also indirectly impact students who may have already used the requested material and are looking to sell it back.

This is because when the bookstore knows a certain book is being reused in an upcoming semester, they can offer more to students selling it back because they know there's a clear need for it.

While students can sell their books back to the bookstore at any point throughout the year, the end of semester during finals is definitely the best time as the store's working to build up it's inventory for the coming year.

Big picture

While the process of requesting a book or access code for a class might seem like a simple task, there's often more at play to determining a college's or course's specific needs. From professors leaving the University to last-minute schedule changes, there are a lot of moving parts that could impact the end result of a book being on the shelf, so please be patient with us throughout the process.


posted: Wednesday, May 3, 2017