I have taught College Algebra several times and will teach it again in the next semester. College Algebra, according to the the catalogue of my college, is described as follows:

This course provides students an opportunity to gain algebraic knowledge needed in many different fields such as engineering, business, education, science, computer technology, and mathematics. Graphical, numerical, symbolic, and verbal methods support the study of functions and their corresponding equations and inequalities. Students will study linear, quadratic, rational, exponential, logarithmic, inverse, composite, radical, and absolute value functions; systems of equations and inequalities modeling applied problems; and curve fitting techniques. There will be extensive use of graphing calculators.

I have been using College Algebra with Modeling & Visualization; Hardcover; Author ‑ Gary K. Rockswold as the textbook for the past few semesters. This book was not chosen by myself; it is the "default value" determined by other teachers when I started teaching. One issue that I have with this textbook (as with many other textbooks) is that newer edition will be available every several years (I think for this particular one, the sixth edition has been published), which increased my burden in preparation. I am searching for a "steady" textbook such as Serge Lang's Basic Mathematics, the latest edition being published in 1986 and since the author has deceased, unlikely there will be a newer edition every few years. However, the Basic Mathematics may not be a suitable College Algebra textbook, based on the description above.

I am here asking for a "stable" College Algebra textbooks that preferably satisfies the following conditions:

  1. It must fit the description of the course mentioned above.
  2. Newer editions will very unlikely be published frequently. This might imply that the textbook is very old, but this is okay with me as long as it is still available and fit the description.
  3. I do not need fancy textbooks. I prefer plain and cheap ones (similar to "Serge Lang's Basic Mathematics" in style.)

Edit: I wrote the question under the assumption that Serge Lang's Basic Mathematics is not suitable for this course. But perhaps by teaching from selected chapters from this book, this book will be a tolerable choice for College Algebra?

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    $\begingroup$ "There will be extensive use of graphing calculators" implies that the course will change as technologies change, which in turn implies that (parts of) the textbook will change. $\endgroup$
    – JRN
    Mar 29, 2017 at 0:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Honestly speaking that I do not like that part. Perhaps I can get by by keeping using the same simple graphing calculator and the same textbook, the core of the course being the same. $\endgroup$
    – Zuriel
    Mar 29, 2017 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ My first reaction is: find anything from outside the US. The chief reason for new editions is an unfair market. $\endgroup$
    – Jessica B
    Mar 29, 2017 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ @JessicaB, thank you for your input! Do you happen to know any good choice outside the US? Do they use the same name "College Algebra" in say UK? $\endgroup$
    – Zuriel
    Mar 29, 2017 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ Twice I have found a good textbook to use for a math course among the classic reprints from Dover Books. Also: inexpensive, so the students like it. $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2017 at 14:39

2 Answers 2


I would think there must be an implicit other condition in your list (that book is currently being published so bookstore can stock it). The only book I can think of that is being republished but is stable like you want (but is quite good) is Schaum's Outline.

Otherwise, if you are comfortable telling the students to buy a book that they need to pick up used on Amazon, than I am big fan of Hart's College Algebra. In particular the one used for WW2 Education Manual (EM315).

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    $\begingroup$ The Schaum's Outline books are not appropriate for use as textbooks. They are what they say they are: outlines. $\endgroup$
    – user507
    Feb 28, 2020 at 18:25

I've recently started using the OpenStax College Algebra text for my courses. I can be pretty picky, but it's "good enough" for me to work with. Advantages include (1) it being openly accessible, (2) you can trust that students have access to it on day one, (3) cost is zero, (4) students can share it with others, (5) students have no reason not to keep it as a reference permanently (i.e., no resale at end of semester), (6) digital format allows one to put it up on an overhead when desired, etc.

For your purposes, another advantage is that due to the open licensing, you never have to update if you don't want to. Keep a copy and just redistribute it forever if you like. There may be some changes, but there's no financial incentive for them to do so, so I don't expect them to be frequent or radical.

  • $\begingroup$ This looks good! Just out of curiosity: How about the exercises solutions? Should we write the homework solutions by ourselves? $\endgroup$
    – Zuriel
    Mar 29, 2017 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Zuriel: Solutions to odd problems are at the back of the book. Full solutions to all exercises are available as an instructor download (need approved account at OpenStax). $\endgroup$ Mar 29, 2017 at 9:24
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    $\begingroup$ I see. Thank you!! $\endgroup$
    – Zuriel
    Mar 29, 2017 at 11:10

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