UCD Bookstore "Equitable Access"

Hello fellow Forum members! I recently found out that as of Fall 2020, UCD will start charging students a $199 fee per quarter for books. Flat fee, get all the books you need. Might sound interesting at first glance. However, my junior daughter has never spent more than $100 per quarter, and it’s usually in the $30-50 range. To me this sounds like instead of being “equitable” UCD is having its own students subsidize the expenses of their classmates.

Yes, you can opt out, but doing so will forfeit your ability to purchase any textbooks at all from the bookstore. So it’s all in at $199 or you’re on your own.

I don’t understand how they can pitch this as a “revolutionary” program when the fee is so high, and most students will be paying MORE.

Here’s the UCD Bookstore site about the program: https://ucdavisstores.com/equitableaccess

Interview with the UCD Bookstore Director: https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2019/09/04/uc-davis-experiments-with-a-new-textbook-model-an-interview-with-jason-lorgan/?fbclid=IwAR3MNd278q1VEmoFDMDneObt1E_FL4N6QD_qlnU4wKZs5hclsosvKfdvmek

Chronicle of Higher Education Article: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Can-a-Health-Insurance-Model/246513?fbclid=IwAR0vlpNQZxEouTOOmfuKV1zlrGwdc5NMCmwnME52Diie9yJDrZCGp3lZ_yI

Oh also, the Academic Senate is opposed it as well. Here is a letter they sent to campus leadership with supporting documents: https://pdfhost.io/v/XTecUhZPv_Academic_Senate_Response_Equitable_Access4620pdf.pdf

Is there any resolution to the Academic Senate Response dated April 6, 2020?
It appears the program is still planned for Fall 2020, so the book store leadership must have addressed the issues.

The biggest issue I see is:
“Some subjects build on each other across courses and instructors expect students to build a library of references from past courses.”

This seems to be the “Apple Music” vs “I-Tunes” argument except that your $199 per quarter doesn’t even give you access to course material from past courses.

No resolution as far as I can tell. In fact, it was A FACULTY MEMBER who started the topic on the Reddit sub yesterday, and most likely wants to kick things up a notch with public support.

There are many problems with it, and yes, you bring up a good one. My main issue is the $199 they came up with. There is no way we ever spend that much per quarter–I don’t think many students do–and I don’t see why anyone WOULDN’T opt out. The numbers just won’t add up for most. Unless they are counting on the fact that students don’t know they have to opt out, thus generating a fresh revenue stream.

Yet another problem is what if a student wants a hard copy of a book, say for chemistry, that they can use for the whole series, but the $199 only provides the digital version? And then being barred from purchasing any texts from the Bookstore if you don’t participate? I don’t understand that at all. Isn’t a bookstore supposed to provide a service to its student body?

All in all, it doesn’t sound like they consulted students OR faculty when creating the policy.

Let me preface by saying that I believe the $199 per quarter is not a good value for students, especially considering they lose all access to the text books (can’t continue to use or sell back) once the quarter is complete.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t use the $199 as an example of a cap that won’t often be exceeded. The cost of buying books for 4 STEM* classes was approaching and occasionally exceeding $200 over 25 years ago. I would expect the cost of those books has at least doubled. Of course you could buy used books (not always available) and cut your cost by 1/2 to 1/3 and you could potentially sell back the books (for say 25 cents per dollar new) but your net cost** is still close to or exceeding $200/quarter.

56% of UC Davis undergraduates are STEM majors
assumes that you will be buying specific books not required for other classes

In regard to “opting out”, there are two big risks:

  1. Hard copies either don’t arrive on time or aren’t available
  2. Online access (outside the campus bookstore platform) pricing could be manipulated to punish those “opting out”

https://financialaid.ucdavis.edu/undergraduate/cost says that an academic year’s worth of books and supplies is estimated to be $1,178 (presumably not based on this plan).

Of course, students’ actual book costs can vary widely, depending on the classes taken. $199 per quarter is likely a bad deal for an English major or a student in classes where the instructor uses or provides free online materials, but may be a bargain for some other students.

We never spent $199/quarter at UCD either. Then again, we buy or rent textbooks from Amazon, not the bookstore. My kid would rather have a hard copy (rented or purchased) than reading online. Last quarter, one of the books on inclusive access was more expensive than purchasing the hard copy.


My daughter is an NPB major and has never spent more than $100 per quarter. With the online digital resources and getting hand-me-down or used books from classmates there is NO WAY she would spend $199 per quarter.

while this appears to be a way of cross-subsidizing heavy text majors, such as STEM students, the ban from opting out is a nothing burger. Many students purchase textbooks online and have them delivered to their door, either thru booksellers like Amazon or the publisher itself. It’s not like it’s either the official campus bookstore or no books for you.

Some books for Lit/Hume majors can be hundreds of years old, so they can be purchased for a few bucks.

The thing that is sneaky about this program is that while you can “technically” opt-out, there are cases where you can’t. Textbook companies are jacking up the “retail” value of books in order to make programs like this sound like a good deal. $250+ for new books is not a normal price at all, even though we are perhaps desensitized to it. It now looks like a pretty good deal because this program is only charging $200/quarter for all your books. What they’re not making obvious is the fact that this program gives you ebooks that expire at the end of the quarter. Go and amazon and the ebooks for textbooks are around $50. You will need to be taking at least 4 classes, all of them requiring textbooks, for you to even break even with this program. So to really benefit from this program, you would likely need to be taking 5+ classes each quarter with at least 5 or more classes mandating textbooks, which is almost unheard of. This entire program is built around the $1178/year figure, which assumes that students are buying new textbooks every year. No student is buying brand new textbooks each quarter. This program gives you ebooks that expire at the end of the quarter, it is completely incomparable to students buying new textbooks.

The subsidizing of other major’s textbooks is wrong on so many levels. First off, I’m not even sure how any student is going to benefit from this program, so you will not be helping anyone. Second, how ridiculous is it to ask other students to subsidize the insanely high textbooks costs. Think about that for a moment. Textbook prices are unreasonably expensive so we’re going to ask poor debt-ridden students to subsidize each other’s costs? WHAT ABOUT THE TEXTBOOK COMPANIES THAT BROUGHT US HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE??? What about the university charging tens of thousands for tuition?? Shouldn’t they be subsidizing the costs instead of poor college students? Props to the textbook companies for coming up with this ingenious idea. Charging us ridiculous prices for textbooks and then asking us to subsidize each other’s costs when we cannot afford them.

I challenge anyone to find a single example of how students can benefit from this program. I also challenge anyone to find a single good thing about this program. And stop saying you can “just opt-out” because there are so many things wrong with the opt-out process that’s detailed in the academic senate letter.

@wrathofthecorn Agree 100%. Shadiest policy development too–I’d like to know which students thought this is a good idea. If you haven’t been on the FB posts yet please hop over there–we have a few threads going in the UC Davis Parent Forum (UCD) as well as a thread on the UC Davis Stores FB page.

Anyone know how to actually opt-out of this farcical money grab? Lots of information about this ridiculous system and the date for opting out, but nothing about how to actually do it. Can’t find any instructions anywhere.

Apparently you will be able to opt out once the charge posts to your MyBill account. BUT you have to opt out EVERY QUARTER.

“You can opt out on your MyBill Student Accounting page. Click the Equitable Access link on the left side of the screen in the “Announcements” section. You will then be directed to a webpage where you will enter your student ID. After clicking the Submit button, you will receive an email that contains a link to your Student Textbook Portal and will allow you opt out. Once your opt out choice has been processed, you will receive a $199 credit in your student account.”

@kikiob Thank you for the information!

How ridiculous. I guess forcing the students to opt-out every quarter and making it as complicated as possible was the idea…

The (poor) STEM students benefit since those texts generally cost the most. The faculty who write textbooks benefit as they can now fill indifferent to requiring the students to purchase a text that they wrote.

OTOH, many Lit/Hume majors get hosed as some of their primary reading sources predate copyright laws by years and costs only a few bucks.

Additional information from the director of the UC Davis Bookstore:

  1. The Equitable Access program is a Digital First program. If a digital version of the course material is available, the student won’t receive a hard copy of the course material as part of the program.
  2. A student can retain access to the (digital) material if the material is downloaded to the Bookshelf app on their device. This process allows access to the downloaded book on the device without internet access. The student will also retain access to the book even after the quarter is over but they must do the down load before the quarter ends. If they just read the book from the Learning Management system they will lose access at the end of the quarter.
  3. If the book is not available digitally then the bookstore will have those books available in physical form and the student does not need to return the physical books back at the end of the quarter.

For item 2) it is not clear if the downloaded books can be recovered should the device (and potentially the computer that backs up the device) be lost/stolen/damaged after the quarter ends.

Thanks for the update. Will they be shipping physical books for free if students are not on campus?

Ha! Great question! Any potential profits this year could be wiped out. I’d email the bookstore director to ask equitableaccess@ucdavis.edu.

Also, for anyone who’s interested, there were a couple LONG threads about this a couple months ago in the UCD Parents Facebook Group.

I did not ask this question. My son intends to live on campus so this will only be a concern if on campus housing closes before the quarter starts.

The email address @kikiob provided in the post above is the way to ask additional questions.

Fees posted today and no OPT OUT option for Equitable Access in my “Announcement” section. Just emailed the bookstore. Please do the same if you want to opt out. equitableaccess@ucdavis.edu