Journal of Statistics Education, Volume 21, Number 2 (2013)
center and sold to students at the cost of paper and toner (no money returns to the PI). The
student is free to choose either or both formats, whichever suits their needs and preferences. The
CCP paradigm may constitute a transition-type textbook genre that bridges what may be the
declining era of traditional texts to the budding, but not yet familiar or standardized era of e-
Many publishing houses now permit professors to order semi-custom versions of a traditional
hard-copy textbook. These variations can help the professor organize the material to better match
their learning goals for the course. However, these customized texts are not necessarily cheaper
and they often have poor re-sale (if any). The degree to which a traditional text can be
customized has some practical limitations. For example, chapters must often be ordered in a
certain way to properly harness the cumulative nature of the IBES subject area.
Inexpensive hardcopy textbooks are becoming common. They feature fewer add-ons and are
bound more parsimoniously – fewer glossy color photos and in paperback. These types of texts
do help lower costs, but they raise questions about quality: Is the student getting what they pay
for? Do the authors and publishing house editors of these texts put the same time and effort into
exposition, practice problems, and solutions as they would for a higher priced textbook?
Parsimoniously priced e-texts are also available, but are often cheaper because they offer fewer
supplements and include access expiration dates (Clark 2008).
Textbook rental programs have some promise.
For example, they allow for the use of a fully
functional textbook, typically with all the desired add-ons (e.g., DVDS, answer keys, web sites).
The rental price is often significantly lower than the direct purchase price of the textbook, hence
saving students money. The use of a single rented text across all sections and professors of a
particular course can possibly increase the uniformity in the educational experience across said
sections – same text, same problems, etc. Different professors using different texts for the same
course may precipitate more heterogeneity in course coverage, style of exposition, and overall
There are some imperfections in the textbook rental paradigm. First, students cannot keep the
textbooks, which may be a meaningful disadvantage as they move through subsequent courses.
This is especially problematic for a core course like IBES, concepts from which students will use
in junior- and senior-level business and economics courses. Second, lack of text ownership may
entail or incite less (or no) highlighting and note-taking in the margins, which can dull the
learning process. Third, rental texts are often purchased on a large scale to enjoy cost savings,
which means that professors of a large multi-section course may have to agree on a single text.
This can create considerable consternation (perhaps even rancor) among professors, each of
whom often has their own preferences over candidate textbooks. When one text is selected, those
disenfranchised by the chosen text may be less willing and able to teach the class effectively. For
example, a professor may marginalize in-class use of the rented text or cover the chapters and
sections in an unusual order, either of which may erode the learning experience. Finally, a rental
program entails ensconcing another layer of bureaucracy in the textbook acquisition and use
process. This can be off-putting to students and faculty.
One of the author’s sister universities uses a text rental program, the details of which can be found at: