VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Open and Affordable Course Content

Barnes & Noble @ VCU and Textbook Affordability

Campus stores/university bookstores have long considered themselves at the forefront of textbook affordability, including providing cheaper, used versions or options for renting texts. As such, they are often supportive of current textbook affordability and open education initiatives.

Barnes & Noble @ VCU follows this trend, and VCU Libraries considers them a valuable partner in our textbook affordability work. They are even a partner on the VCU Affordable Course Content Awards.

For the bookstore staff supporting course materials, the needs of VCU faculty and students are their top priority. We encourage you to reach out to them if you have any questions about your adoptions, including the options we outline on this page. They follow the lead of the faculty, so clear communication about what you need and/or want to share with your students is important!

Reporting Adoptions to the Bookstore

According to the VCU Textbook Adoptions and Sales Policy, all "faculty shall submit textbook and course material adoption information to the respective university bookstore." Universal reporting to the bookstore

  • Creates a comprehensive list of all course materials being assigned.
  • Creates transparency for students, so they are aware of what they need to purchase. Or, in the case of open texts, are aware there is a text for the course, even if it's free.
  • Ensures that those students who are required to use financial aid dollars marked for course materials at the bookstore can use their funds to purchase materials.
  • Ensures that those students who may want their own copy or a print copy can obtain it through the bookstore. 

Due to both the policy requirement and the additional benefits, VCU Libraries recommends reporting textbook adoptions to the bookstore, even for texts which are freely available, including library ebooks and OER. However, for those freely available books, you should include a note alerting your students that a free version exists.

Reporting to the Bookstore

Barnes & Noble @ VCU now uses the Barnes & Noble Adoptions and Insights Portal to report adoptions. This site draws from a number of publisher databases to assist you in easily locating the correct text. Make sure that you share information about what format (e.g. print/ebook) you recommend students obtain if you have a preference.

If you're using an OER or other text that you can't find on the site, reach out directly to the bookstore for assistance. Alternatively, for OER, you can also indicate that no book is assigned, but add a note to the alert students that a book actually is required, although it is free.

Adding a note about free editions

Whenever there is a free version of your course material available, VCU Libraries strongly encourages faculty to add a note in the Barnes & Noble interface. Letting students know a free version is available

  • Creates transparency so students know and can evaluate their options of obtaining the required materials.
  • Eases worries of students worried about the cost of the textbook or, alternatively, how they can succeed if they can't afford to purchase the materials.
  • For OER indicated as "no textbook required," lets students know they actually do have a textbook, it's just freely available.

Notes can be added through the Adoptions and Insights Portal or by contacting the bookstore directly. The note will appear alongside the book listing on the Barnes & Noble site.

Sample notes include: 

  • Please talk to your instructor before purchasing this text.
  • This book is available as a free version online/through VCU Libraries. Please see your instructor for additional information.

Course Packs, Printing, and Licensing through XanEDU

Barnes and Noble @ VCU partners with XanEdu to help faculty create customized print course materials. Materials can be a combination of openly licensed or copyrighted works. If the latter, XanEdu helps faculty license permissions for copyrighted content. Created content will automatically be available for purchase at the bookstore. There is no cost for faculty to use XanEdu. Learn more from XanEdu's website: