This policy applies to institutional initiatives to control the cost of textbooks and supplemental materials within the UW system. For the purposes of this policy, a UW bookstore is any bookstore that is operated by, or in a contractual relationship or otherwise affiliated with, a UW institution.


The purpose of this policy is to encourage UW institutions to adopt approaches for controlling the cost of textbooks and supplemental materials and to ensure UW institutions comply with federal regulations related to textbook costs.


The UW System Board of Regents recognizes that it is the responsibility of faculty and instructional academic staff to select textbooks and other instructional materials for UW courses. At the same time, effective institutional efforts to control textbook costs are essential for reducing college costs, lowering student debt, and promoting student success.

  1. Each UW institution shall comply with applicable provisions of 20 U.S. Code § 1015b., “Textbook Information,” including but not limited to the requirement to disclose the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and retail price of required and recommended college textbooks and supplemental materials for each course listed on the institution’s course schedules.
  2. Each institution shall develop and implement a schedule for the early adoption of textbooks that students are required to purchase to allow students time to order textbooks from competitively priced sources.
  3. To the extent possible, at the time the materials are ordered, each UW bookstore shall provide faculty and instructional academic staff who order course materials with current information about the retail price of the textbook and supplemental materials ordered.
  4. To enhance the viability of used textbooks as an option for lowering the costs of textbooks to students, to the extent feasible and appropriate, faculty and instructional academic staff teaching the same course for multiple semesters are encouraged to use the same textbooks and course materials for multiple semesters.
  5. Whenever appropriate within the goals of the course, faculty and instructional academic staff are encouraged to order new editions of textbooks only if older editions are not of comparable educational content or are no longer available through normal distribution channels. In such cases, instructors are encouraged to list information pertinent to previous editions which are acceptable for use.
  6. When available, and economically advantageous to students, faculty and instructional academic staff shall request unbundled versions of textbook and course materials or adopt open educational resources.
  7. If faculty or instructional academic staff assign bundled materials for a course, each UW bookstore shall make available both the bundled and unbundled versions of the materials for purchase. In situations where bundled materials are assigned, institutions and bookstores should notify students that they may choose to purchase either the bundled package or all required portions of the bundle individually.
  8. Faculty and instructional academic staff shall encourage students to purchase electronic versions or other alternative formats of textbooks when appropriate, available for purchase, and economically advantageous to the student.
  9. Each UW institutions shall continue to identify and implement other creative ways to lessen the financial hardship of college textbook purchases, such as: adopting open educational resources, targeted scholarship and financial aid funds, exploration of economically viable textbook rental programs for selected courses, consideration of placing selected course materials on reserve in campus libraries, using information in the public domain (custom publishing), and encouraging student-managed initiatives such as textbook swaps.


Each UW institution is responsible for identifying and implementing approaches to control textbook and other course material costs and for complying with the applicable provisions of 20 U.S. Code § 1015b., “Textbook Information,” and with this policy.


  • 20 U.S. Code § 1015b., “Textbook information”


History: Res. 9618, adopted 05/08/2009, implemented interim guidelines. Res. 9778, adopted 06/11/2010, created Regent Policy Document 4-18. Res. 11511, adopted 10/08/2020, amended Regent Policy Document 4-18.