Common Ways of Obtaining Textbooks

Review common ways of obtaining textbooks and other materials needed for courses. Textbooks are not covered by tuition.

Top Textbooks

Top Textbooks acquires copies of required textbooks for a select group of undergraduate, high enrollment courses with traditionally expensive textbooks and places them on course reserve for use by all students. Textbooks are available at Gelman Library to check out for three hours (or overnight if the book is checked out in the three hours before the Check Out Desk closes.) 

From the GW Bookstore

See course material information for all students.

Students may purchase the link above or from gwshops.com. The majority of course materials listed as books are also available digitally. For order specific, or other questions please submit questions online, send an email to gwshops@bkstr.com or call 202-994-6870.

From Other Retailers

You are not required to purchase books from the bookstore and may be able to find them elsewhere for a lower price. You may choose to rent textbooks, buy them used, borrow them, or purchase a digital textbook. A Google search will provide several options for obtaining textbooks.

You might also connect with students who have taken the class in the past to see if they can loan or sell you their old textbook. 

From the Libraries

Search the library catalog for your course materials. The libraries do not specifically purchase textbooks outside the Top Textbooks program, but often a library at GW or within our consortium will have books used for courses in their collection that you can borrow. 

Course Reserves

Course reserves are readings or media set aside for a specific course at the request of the course's instructor.

You can access Electronic Reserves (e-reserves) through Blackboard 24 hours a day.  Access to these materials is limited to students in the class. Visit the Blackboard site and log in. Open your course's page and look for Electronic Reserves on the left side menu. Items are linked to Electronic Reserves upon request of the faculty.

You can search the library catalog for course reserves by selecting the "course reserves" tab beneath the search box. 

Open Educational Resources

Open Educational Resources (OER) course materials are freely and openly available, making education more affordable and easy to access. This includes textbooks that are openly licensed for use. Because the material has nonrestrictive licensing, your professor can reuse, revise, and combine the material to customize it for their courses, and there is typically no expiration date on digital materials. With open textbooks, online and downloadable versions are often free of cost and access barriers, and print copies are significantly less expensive than traditional textbooks.

When talking to professors about the possibility of adopting open textbooks, personal stories are frequently more effective than dry data. Students interested in using OER can include a statement about OER in class evaluations or talk to their teaching/graduate assistants and faculty advisors about the benefits of using OER.

GW Libraries can provide assistance to professors in finding open textbooks relevant to their course and redesigning a curriculum with OER in mind.