The Associated Students of Washington State University, the undergraduate student government organization for WSU, has encouraged professors to assign widely used textbooks for their students. The ASWSU has also encouraged professors to send in their book orders earlier than normal so that bookstores can prepare for the student rush by acquiring more copies of used books if possible.
One idea behind using popular textbooks is that they often have good resale value at the end of the semester since the same books may be used for other classes around the country. Even if one particular teacher does not continue to use a textbook, teachers at other institutions will probably continue to use the book, and students can resell their textbooks online and ship them across the country as-needed.
It’s interesting to see a student group encourage faculty in this manner, but we expect to see more of this as finances get tighter with the rising costs of higher education. Perhaps we’ll see more professors assigning free online textbooks over the next few years.