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Finding Textbooks   Tags: textbooks  

Suggestions for finding texts for Mason courses
Last Updated: Jan 13, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Resources for Textbooks Print Page

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 Program

TextSelect image

To help address the cost of required textbooks, the Mason Libraries purchase selected textbooks (TextSelect) that meet certain criteria:

  • books that satisfy general education requirements across all discipline
  • books required for courses in the Volgenau School of Engineering
  • books required for courses in the School of Management (starts Spring 2014)
  • books that cost more than $20.00 in the above categories

TextSelect books are placed on 2-hour reserve in the Johnson Center Library, Fairfax Campus. Students can locate TextSelect textbooks in the Mason Catalog or in the Course Reserve Catalog.



Q.  What is the most frequently asked question during the beginning of each semester in the Libraries?

A.   Does the Library have textbooks?

As a Mason student, textbook purchases are your responsibility. And, as a general rule, the Mason Libraries do not purchase class/course textbooks for the library collections. However, the Libraries occasionally purchase key texts which are considered significant contributions to a subject discipline.


The tabs along the top of this InfoGuide provide you with more information and/or options for locating textbooks.


Steps to Take

Some steps you can take include:

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. Some books used for classes are temporarily placed on Reserve, or may be in a Reference Collection.

2. Search the Mason Libraries e-book collections.

3. Search the Mason Libraries Course Reserve system. A professor may have placed a copy on Reserve.  Items on Reserve may be used for a limited period of time -- depending on the professor's instructions -- to allow you to read a chapter, take notes, etc. Items on reserve can also be found by searching the Mason Library catalog. 

Textbook Rentals/Online Textbooks

New Options for Students: Rentals! (titles vary by vendor/publisher)

These are newer options for our students who wish to get their textbooks for a reduced price.

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)


    A new 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.

    Think. Learn. Succeed.

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