West Valley College
14000 Fruitvale Avenue, Saratoga, CA 95070 • Phone (408) 867-2200

Quick Textbook Facts at a Glance

  • In 2004, according the US Government Accounting Office ^, students spent an average of $900 per year on textbooks.

  • In 2010, according to the California Student Aid Commission ^ (PDF) , the yearly costs of "books and supplies" are estimated at $1,620 for each student who will take up to four classes per semester, for two semesters

  • According to the National Association of College Stores ^, textbook margins (difference between cost and retail price, reflecting work required to bring products to market) nationwide is about 26.9%.

  • Our Bookstore's margin is 25%. This means that if it costs our Bookstore $100 to have the book available (shipping, purchase inventory), the retail cost will be about $125 to $130. All proceeds from the margin directly support services within Student Activities and the operations of the Campus Center. (See bookstore audit by Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co. LLP, dated March 2010).

How Textbooks Are Priced

Textbook Cost


How West Valley College is Keeping Textbook Costs Low

  • In cooperation with the Campus Bookstore, the College has adopted many of the recommendations provided by the State Chancellor's Office ^ of California Community Colleges.

  • Effective July 1st, 2010, all textbook margins will be reduced by 5%. The Campus Center proceeds and support will rely on a 20% margin. The 20% margin is well below the national average.

  • The College has created the Textbook Affordability Task Force. This committee is composed of Faculty, Staff, Students, Bookstore staff, and Administrators charged to develop guidelines of helping keep textbook pricing affordable.

  • Every semester, the Bookstore negotiates with publishers to donate approximately $2,500 to $3,000 worth of textbooks to the Library to make available for student checkout reserve.
  • The College has a "book loan" program administered through A&R where students are loaned money to purchase their textbooks and then repay that loan. Since 2007, the College has loaned more than $77,500 in loans.

2007 2008 2009 2010 (Fall)
$18,358.30 $21,751.01 $22,581.22 $14,872.28


  • Every semester, Bookstore staff assist faculty with ensuring book orders are made early enough to leverage orders among the used textbook market and healthy "buy-back" program. The most cost effective types of book sales for students are "used textbooks." Students receive 50% back on books readopted.The College and Bookstore is currently exploring the feasibility of a textbook rental program for all students.

    • New Textbooks are sold at a 25% margin

      • Example-$75.00 cost = $100.00 shelf price
      • Net cost to student at buyback is $50.
    • Used Textbooks are sold at 75% of the new book price

      • Example- $100.00 New = $75.00 used

      • Used: $75.00 = $37.50 Net Cost to Students

  • Faculty are experimenting with different modes of providing access to print and online material for their courses. For example, they are working with textbook publishers to hold down costs by creating course-specific texts that include only select content (or chapters), less "bells and whistles," and less color and graphics.

  • We have the grassroots Books for Food program which represents a partnership between our students, many of our faculty, the library, and the bookstore to loan out books in exchange for food for those less fortunate.

  • The College created an Advancement Foundation endowment to help with textbook and scholarship grants. Awards are made through the college's financial aid office.


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