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Open Textbooks

Print friendly Modified July 21, 2014

The high cost of textbooks continues to be a problem for college students and their families. Changes in textbook purchasing options, such as rental programs, e-textbooks, and open textbooks, have emerged as cost savings options. A recent report, A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability, suggests that one of these options, open textbooks, could reduce the average amount students spend on textbooks by 80% a year.

What is an Open Textbook?

An open textbook is a digital textbook offered online by its author(s). The “open” in open textbooks refers to the type of license the book is released under. Open licenses provide a standardized way for authors of creative works to grant permissions that allow free and legal sharing, use, re-purposing, and remixing of their works by others. Open textbooks are publicly available and freely accessible online in a variety of formats that can be read online or downloaded for reading on personal computers, e-readers, or other mobile devices. Students who wish to have a traditional print copy can, in many cases, purchase a hard copy of the textbook at significant cost savings. Open licenses allow instructors to adapt, remix, or customize existing open textbooks to maximize instructional content to meet their own learning objectives.

More About Open Textbooks

A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Textbook Affordability
A report suggests that open textbooks could reduce the average amount students spend on textbooks by 80% a year.

Open Access Textbooks

Overview of open access textbooks and resources for further learning.
Information about open textbooks from the LibGuide, provided by the University of North Georgia.

What are Open Textbooks?

An overview of what open textbooks are, how they are created, and how you can participate is available at the Connexions website.

Video: Education Without Limits
David Wiley of Brigham Young University, 2011.

Finding Open Textbooks

The following repositories and websites provide access to open textbooks.

A repository for open access educational modules. Connextions is supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Maxfield Foundation, and Connexions Consortium.

College Open Textbooks
Portal to hundreds of open access college textbooks across the curriculum.

Global Text Project
The Global Text Project is a joint project of the Terry College of Business of the University of Georgia and The Daniels College of Business of the University of Denver. The library covers a range of topics typically encountered in a university’s undergraduate programs.

The National Academies Press
More than 4,000 titles in PDF format that can be downloaded for free by the chapter or the entire book.

CK 12 Flexbooks
Customizable, standards-aligned, free digital textbooks for K-12.

California State University System Affordable Learning Solutions
Designed to enable faculty to choose and provide quality educational content that is more affordable for their students.

OER Commons
A network for teaching and learning materials and open textbooks providing a single point of access through which educators and learners can search across collections to access over 24,000 items.

Orange Grove Text Plus
A joint initiative of the University Press of Florida and The Orange Grove, Florida’s Digital Repository. The goal of this partnership is to reduce the cost of books to students by offering texts that are affordable, accessible, and adaptable to reader preferences.

Flat World Knowledge
Organization offers open access textbooks; business model is offering supplemental services, such as printing, for a fee.