Exactly How This School is Helping its 37,000 Students Save on The Cost of College


This is the latest in a series of stories about how colleges across the country are innovating the way they deliver course materials to their students. Read two related stories here and here.


A Career Built in Bookstores

“I know a lot about the college bookstore world,” says Jason Lorgan. “I’ve basically grown up in it.”

For the last 24 years (Jason’s whole career, save the first two years after college), he has worked in a bookstore on a college campus.

Today, he manages the bookstore at the University of California, Davis—between Sacramento and San Francisco.

“I’m responsible for making sure the bookstore offers superior products at superior prices—to all 37,000 of our students,” Jason says.

A Tricky Problem to Solve

There is one question that has followed Jason throughout his career: “What is the best way to deliver course materials to students?”

He hears it from students, faculty, and administrators, as well as bookstore managers across the country.

Across the board, Jason says, stakeholders agree that the “old way” of visiting a campus bookstore in person to buy a traditional textbook is both inconvenient and expensive for students.


Across the board, Jason says, stakeholders agree that the “old way” of visiting a campus bookstore in person to buy a traditional textbook is both inconvenient and expensive for students.


Four years ago, after a conversation with other bookstore managers, each reporting declining sales, Jason started thinking through the question in a new way.

“When students arrive on campus, they have access to a lot of services by default,” Jason says.

“They have a dorm room assigned to them, a roommate, and a meal plan. The only thing they don’t have before classes start each quarter is the one thing that is most necessary for academic success: their course materials.”

“That didn’t make any sense to me,” Jason says.

“So I decided to do something about it.”

Less than a year later, UC-Davis launched a pilot program called “Inclusive Access.”

“For the first time, we were delivering course materials to students digitally,” Jason says, “and delivering them before classes began.”

Pilot Program Success

When the “Inclusive Access” pilot launched, Jason says approximately 3,000 students across 10 courses received their course materials digitally.

It’s a simple and straightforward process.

One to two weeks before classes begin, students enrolled in those 10 courses received an email, letting them know their course materials are available in a digital format.


One to two weeks before classes begin, students enrolled
in those 10 courses received an email, letting them know
their course materials are available in a digital format.


At the bottom of the email, Jason explains, is the price of the digital course materials, as well as a link at which they can be downloaded.

Additionally, students are informed that they have 10 days to opt out of the program, if they prefer.

                            A sample message a student enrolled in an “Inclusive Access” would receive from the University.

“Savings vary by publisher, but across the board, digital materials cost students much less than traditional textbooks.”

“It’s a big reason why, we think, the vast majority of students choose to opt into ‘Inclusive Access,’” Jason says.

Great Growth and Rave Reviews

Jason says the Inclusive Access has grown rapidly since its launch in 2014.

This quarter, approximately 17,000 students are enrolled in at least one course that uses digital content administered through the “Inclusive Access” program, he says.

“It’s growing, and it’s getting rave reviews from both students and professors,” Jason says.

Recently, Jason says, he discussed the program’s particular value for schools like UC-Davis that run on the quarter system with a professor.

“Our terms are half as long as those at most schools,” he says. “Waiting two or three weeks for students to get their textbooks is far from ideal.”

Jason says the professor agreed.

“She said to me, ‘This program allows me to start teaching in earnest on the very first day of class. In my 20-year career, I’ve never been able to do that.”


“She said to me, ‘This program allows me to start teaching
in earnest on the very first day of class. In my 20-year career,
I’ve never been able to do that.”