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Finding Textbooks: Resources for Textbooks

Suggestions for finding texts for Mason courses

Hints & Tips

These are some simple tips to obtain your textbooks effectively and efficiently...

1. Library books...for all to share

Books borrowed from the library are guaranteed for 4 week check out period (at a minimum) -- after which they can be recalled for another borrower to use.  It is probable you're not the only one trying to get a copy of the book from the Library.

2.  Plan ahead

Why?  Maybe a book isn't needed until halfway through the semester, and you can afford to wait a bit on buying that particular book.  Maybe the online service that has your book is down.  Maybe there is no on-line vendor with your book.

3.  Check Your Syllabus!

Why?  Sometimes you really don't need the whole book, may be just a chapter or a portion of the book.

4.  Always keep track of your books

Why?  Because bad things happen.  You might lose your textbook, it might get stolen, or any number of unfortunate events.

5.  Search by ISBN

Why?  The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is the code for that specific book you need.  Newer/older editions usually have different content, and the specific book your class requires may have something you need particularly for that class.  Don't know the ISBN?  Contact your professor!

TextSelect: Textbooks on Reserve

TextSelect imageMason Libraries’ TextSelect program provides required textbooks for selected required classes. Through TextSelect, textbooks which cost more than $50.00 are purchased by the libraries. This popular collection now includes required textbooks for the following selected 100, 200, 300 & 400 level required courses:

  • Required General Education classes
  • Required School of Business classes
  • Required Conflict Resolution classes
  • Required Economics classes
  • Required Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Health and Nursing classes

TextSelect also includes selected textbooks under $50.00 as well as selected graduate-level textbooks in these class subject areas (above). TextSelect textbooks are placed on 2-hour reserve in the Gateway Library, located in the Johnson Center, Fairfax Campus. Check the the Mason Libraries Catalog or the Course Reserve Catalog to find TextSelect textbooks on reserve. Students may also suggest a textbook purchase.

For more information on TextSelect, please contact Madeline Kelly, mkelly25 at, 703-993-2849, or your subject librarian.


Places to Look for Textbooks

  1. Search the Mason Libraries catalog. Please note the call number, the actual Mason Library (there are five different Mason Libraries!) and the specific location of the item in the specific Library. TextSelect books, as well as others that your instructors may be using, are placed on Reserve or may be in a Reference Collection. Check the catalog for library location and status.
  2. Search the Mason Libraries e-book collections. There are hundreds of ebooks available through the Libraries.
  3. Check for any Reserves listed on your course's Blackboard webpage.


Textbook Rentals/Online Textbooks

It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you read the full FAQ and Agreement before renting any textbooks or buying electronic copies.

Things to consider for Online Textbooks...

  • If the vendor requires a separate program (ie, not web browser based viewing) to actually get to your books
  • If access is perpetual (For all time!) or only for the semester (temporary access)

Things to consider for Rented Textbooks...

  • If the vendor has a specific return-by date and what the penalties might be
  • If the vendor has specific criteria by which they accept the book back (no damage, certain paperwork, etc)


Another option for Mason students are eTextbooks, available through the Campus Bookstore Website.

These are potentially money and back saving options for many students, but there are important elements to know!

1. You can only use them on full computers.  As of now, you cannot use iPads or other tablets, other mobile devices or smartphones, to view the material.  You would need a proper laptop or desktop computer.

2. You can only use them on up to two (2) computers.  This means 'sharing' the material is ill-advised.

3. The instant you download the textbook, or use the access code for the particular textbook, you will not be able to get a refund if you end up switching courses.

4. Printing out parts of the textbook is restricted with a finite limit on how much you can reproduce from the eTextbook. Only print out parts of the book you explicitly need for other purposes.

5. Access to the material is limited to a strict license, with the time-frame unable to be extended unless the student/user re-rents the same material for another semester.  If you think you may need the material beyond the very specific dates listed in the license, you may want to consider buying the book.

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Think. Learn. Succeed.

Chris Magee
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1300 Fenwick Library

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