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Pre-owned Textbooks Relieve Budget Pressures

Follett Educational Services Saves Canton City School District over 36% on textbook and supplemental purchases

When education budgets get tighter it’s inevitably a struggle for administrators to find areas for savings that don’t have a negative impact on students. But at the Canton City (OH) School District, (, which has had to cut at least $16 million in three years, one answer has been to purchase preowned textbooks through Follett Educational Services (FES).

With a textbook budget that continues to shrink and new-textbook costs that continue to rise,” says Mary Ann Ayling, Canton’s Curriculum Director of Curriculum and instruction, “we’ve been unable to maintain the five-year adoption cycle [for books] many districts have been accustomed to. So we’ve been increasing our purchase of preowned textbooks and workbooks. In fact, we’re spending almost one-third of our textbook budget on pre-owned texts and supplementals.

The Buy-Back Program enables districts
to convert excess or surplus textbooks
into cash or credit toward FES purchases

“For this school year we spent $196,000 with Follett Educational Services (FES) for used books and workbooks that, if we purchased them new, would have cost us $311,000,” says Ayling.

In addition to the savings realized by purchasing books from FES, the district was also able to take advantage of FES’ Buy-Back Program. This program enables schools and districts to convert excess or surplus textbooks they no longer need into cash or credit to be applied toward their FES purchases. In addition to providing an alternative source of funding for other programs or future book needs, the program is designed to put as many books as possible back into the hands of children who can benefit from them and dramatically reduce the number of books that go into landfills each year.

Ordering quality pre-owned textbooks and supplemental materials from Follett Educational Services is remarkably simple and fast. An online catalog is available to build an order and future orders are simplified by creating and saving booklists to match ordering needs. Of course, Customer Service Representatives are available to take phone (800-621-4272) and fax (800-638- 4424) orders. “Typically when we place an order we get our books at our facility in Canton within four or five days,” adds Ayling.

The quality of FES’ used textbooks is consistently first rate, she says. The company submits each text to a rigorous checklist that ensures the book cover, spine, binding, title/copyright page, index/glossary, text pages and book edges are all in good condition. The book's signature page is replaced and inspectors make sure each used textbook has an overall clean appearance. Furthermore, every book comes with a money-back guarantee.

“Very few used textbooks get past FES that aren’t in very good condition,” says Ayling, “but if we accidentally get a textbook that isn’t in very good shape, it’s immediately replaced.”

This is particularly good news for the Canton City School District which has been facing difficult budget restrictions affecting textbooks and consumable workbook purchasing, she notes. She credits Follett Educational Services ( with providing quality and economically efficient solutions that place quality materials in the classroom during hard financial times.

And Canton City School District is not alone. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), school budget crunches have been a trend over the past couple years and span the entire nation. Even with the substantial investments in education, the issue over the adequacy of funding is at the forefront of education reform. And the future of education funding is likely to remain tight, according to NCSL.

Canton City Schools is adjusting to its financial pressures.“When we buy the used textbooks we know how long we’re going to need them and we plan accordingly.

“I’ve been in curriculum [purchasing] for 21 years and I’ve learned to check with Follett among others before we buy anything,” says Ayling, “and that’s become even more true as education budgets have been squeezed.”

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