Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Faculty Choice: Compare Textbook Models: Home

Instructors have many choices when assigning textbooks and other course readings. Here are several options at UT.
This page is part of the Libraries' Open Education Portal.

Which model works best for your class?

Review the options below. Choose one, or mix and match. Note: There are additional alternatives (such as Course Reserves) below the table.

Physical Textbooks

Students buy new or used copies from a variety of sources.

VolShop's interface allows students to compare costs of textbooks from various vendors and purchase the title at the lowest price.

Build from Library Subscriptions

Students login to the Libraries' subscription collections for selected articles, books, videos, etc.

The Libraries' collections and subscriptions include thousands of e-books and streaming videos in addition to online scholarly journals.

Inclusive Access Program

Students are opted-in to purchase a short-term rental of an e-copy.

Textbook charges are added directly to a student's bursar bill, unless a student opts-out. Scholarships and student loans can cover these textbooks costs. Supplemental materials incur additional charges. Students lose access after the semester ends.

Open Textbooks

Books are free to everyone, everywhere, thanks to grant funds or subsidies. No login required.

Many open textbooks are grant funded, or subsidized by institutions giving small stipends to authors. Subject coverage is wide-ranging, but options may be limited in some disciplines.

Comparison Chart


Physical Textbooks

Logo for VolShop

Build from Library Subscriptions

Logo for UT Libraries

Inclusive Access

Logo for VolShop

Open Textbooks

Available to Students

Upon purchase As long as they are a student/staff at UT with NetID First day of class (unless student opts-out) through Last day of class Any time


Varies; Students may be able to find used copies for less


*Students pay tuition and library fees, which contribute to the Libraries' collection budget. Students have access to library subscription resources for as long as they are UT students or staff with a NetID.

Significantly less than new copies (up to 65% savings); Students are automatically opted-in and billed on their bursar's bill Free. Print copies may be purchased for a small fee.

Student Ownership

Purchase; Retain or resell Access with NetID; Can usually download a copy for personal use Rental of digital copy limited to a semester Can download, retain, share, etc. at any time

Faculty Time in Preparation

Varies Significant (must choose readings) Varies Varies

Tailoring Content

Instructors can supplement; Tailoring text not permitted Instructors can supplement; Tailoring texts not permitted Instructors can supplement; Tailoring texts not permitted Licensed to allow tailoring of text

Supplemental Materials

May be available Find or build May be available May be available

Best Practice

Place book orders early (at least by the preferred deadlines) so the VolShop can buy back books from students. Early orders also give students more opportunities to comparison shop. Link to articles or e-books in Canvas (don't share the full PDF) so the Libraries can gather usage statistics.   Use this online form to tell the Libraries that you're adopting an open textbook. The Libraries will notify the VolShop, Provost's Office and SGA, and will use the reported data to estimate overall  student savings.

More Information

VolShop OneSearch for print and e-collections; list of all E-Book subscription collections; Libraries Streaming Video Guide VolShop Inclusive Access

Libraries Open Textbook Guide; List of open textbooks at University of Minnesota's Open Textbook Library; List of faculty open textbook adopters at UT

Also try your professional society (such as the American Institute of Mathematics' Open Textbook Initiative) or Project Gutenberg and HathiTrust for texts in the Public Domain

Other Alternatives 

Don't forget about the Libraries' Course Reserves. Place a copy of a textbook on course reserve for short-term student access. Loan periods range from 2 hours to 3 days.

The Frieson Black Cultural Center's Book Loan Program gives students semester-long access to extra copies of textbooks on a first-come, first-served basis.

More Information

For information about the VolShop's programs, contact the VolShop.

For library information in your discipline, contact your liaison librarian.

For help with open textbooks, contact members of the Open Textbook Working Group:

  • Teresa Berry, University Libraries
  • Rachel Caldwell, University Libraries (chair) - Contact Information
  • Stan Guffey, Teaching and Learning Innovation
  • Miriam Larson, Office of Information Technology, Instructional Support
  • Molly Royse, University Libraries
  • Anna Sandelli, University Libraries
  • Allison Shepard, University Libraries