The AL$ Guide to Implementing an Immediate Access/Opt Out for Course Materials On Your Campus

The Immediate Access/Opt Out program was developed and piloted by Aztec Shops Bookstore and collaborating departments at San Diego State University. This outline is designed as a template for adoption of the very efficient process that was tested and proven and can be scaled to all CSU campuses.



WHAT IS IT: It is a joint program in which students for a class have access at NO CHARGE to their course materials in digital format on the first day of class and will retain access until the add/drop deadline at no cost. At or prior to the dd/drop deadline date, the student will have had the option to ‘opt-out’ electronically and discontinue access to the materials. Students who opt to continue, will be charged for the materials. Access will cease for any who opt out.


WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS: Benefits of the program are immediate access to materials; delayed payment or option to discontinue and no payment; typical discounts of 10% to 20% over regular digital access and 25% to 60% discount over printed rental or purchase of hard copies, and option for print-outs for the materials at nominal costs.


STEPS TO SUCCESS: We believe that the success of the SDSU pilot is totally due to the extensive and organized steps taken in a distinct order and prior to request for approval.

Step 1: Assemble a Committee

  • Bookstore or AL$ committee recruits a joint committee member from each of the following: Bookstore, Academic or Faculty Senate, Academic Technologies, Provost’s office, Associated Students, Enrollment services/Registrar.
  • Optional additions may be Library, Campus Fee committee, Auxiliary administration (oversees bookstore), and any interested Dean’s office.

Step 2: Recruit Participating Faculty

  • Bookstore and Academic Technologies are likely experts at identifying innovative faculty who are already adopting digital delivery materials for their classes and/or whose material is available in digital format. This step also may involve a departmental and Dean approval.
  • NOTE: Not all classes are right for this program. Classes where content/books are not utilized fully or to a large degree in the class are not good candidates. If publisher content/book is only a resource and not a core part of the instruction, it may be unfair to students to encourage purchase of a product they may not need.

Step 3: Negotiate Pricing and Conditions with Publisher

  • The advantage to publishers is that the entire class gets to test-drive their materials and are much more likely to buy them once they have had that opportunity and when they are better-equipped to pay.
  • Pricing should reflect a discount but that discount will vary with seat counts and with publishers.
  • Conditions could include whether the students and/or the faculty retain the work they have done to date if they opt out, what the limits are on printing the digital materials if any, and whether he students may retain their work if they opt out but purchase a hard copy at the bookstore.
  • The Bookstore and the participating faculty members would take this task.

Step 4: Comprehensive Procedure is Set Up for Entire Program

This step is critical in advance because an illustration of how it will work and confidence that the process is in place is the selling point for all principals who will make final decisions.

  1. An outline that includes the pricing, the discount or comparison to traditional formats, the return or refund policy and procedure if necessary after purchase, the dates or timelines of opt-out, billing to student account, each email notification of pending opt out dates, email notification of account being charged.
  2. A sample of the footnote explaining the free trial, charges, and opt out that will appear in the class schedule.
  3. The messaging that will appear in the LMS and on the class syllabus.
  4. The verbiage and dates of the emails that will be sent to students at the start of class to direct them to the access.
  5. The verbiage and dates of the emails that will be sent to students at least 48 hours before the opt-out date with a link to an actual bookstore-created address at which they opt out.
  6. The FAQ information that will appear on Bookstore web page and be available for participating faculty to include in their LMS as they wish.
  7. A Help Desk phone number (usually in the course materials department of the bookstore).
  8. An explanation of how students may request a Print on Demand copy of the materials and at what cost after the opt out period.
  9. A description of how the Cashier’s office will charge the student and then transfer those funds to the store as the publishers will invoice the store. This could be an open quantity purchase order from the cashier’s office to the store and an invoice to cashiers from the store for the exact quantity and cost which were not opted out.

Step 5: Obtain Approval

  • Typically,one should obtain approval via a presentation by some of the members of the joint committee to the campus course fee approval committee. It may be determined on some campuses that this step need only be taken once for all future faculty adoptions of the Immediate Access Opt-Out program, but this is a campus-to-campus decision.
  • This presentation is best done by the Bookstore and Academic Technologies. Others who may be especially productive could include participating faculty, deans, and any other members of the joint committee.
  • Samples of descriptions for the class schedule, messaging for notices and LMS, FAQs, the opt-out page, and other items are available upon request. Email for additional information.