The University's Response: The University of Michigan Textbook Task Force and its Report

The Textbook Task Force was established by the University of Michigan Office of Provost in December 2006.  Provost Teresa Sullivan and Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts charged the Task Force with addressing the issue of rising college textbook costs and their implications for the University.  The report, Research and Recommendations Concerning the Costs of Textbooks, was produced in April 2007.
The Task Force researched the factors contributing to high textbook costs, including the practices of textbook publishers, faculty selection and ordering of textbooks, bookseller ordering and pricing practices, and constraints on the used textbook market.  Additionally, the Task Force examined how technology might be applied to lower student textbook costs.

The full text of the Task Force Report is available at:

Task Force Recommendations -- early textbook adoption program, UBook, etc.

As a result of its research, the Textbook Task Force report recommended six steps that the University should take to ameliorate the effects of textbook costs on Michigan students:

1. Establish dates by which textbook lists should be posted to allow students to take advantage of the used book market and seek cost savings in other ways.

2. Foster a used book market in partnership with local booksellers.

3. Implement a faculty-led communication plan to support efforts to accelerate adoption rates and encourage other cost saving practices.

4. Develop, test and implement an online textbook tool that:
a. allows faculty to enter and share their textbook lists with students and booksellers;
b. allows students to find other students who want to buy or sell textbooks being reused in a subsequent term.

5. Provide a structure for launching, publicizing, and managing the recommended new systems and processes by assigning responsibility for the systems to the Office of the Registrar and by appointing a Faculty/Student Textbook Steering Committee to rally faculty support and advise the Office of the Registrar as it administers the textbook listing process.

6. Encourage other institutions of higher education to join with Michigan in bringing pressure to bear on commercial publishers.

The University has taken important steps based on these recommendations, including creation of a textbook calendar and the Textbooks Tool and UBook

Page maintained by Susan Hollar
Last modified: 01/15/2014