Many students are concerned about the cost of textbooks. The Open Textbook movement developed in response to this concern.
Open textbooks are made available online by the author. There is no charge to download, copy, and print. In some cases, the student can purchase a print copy at a reduced price. The Open Textbook Act of 2009 (H.R.N 4575) defines open textbooks as "college textbooks or course materials in electronic format that are licensed under an open license, which is an irrevocable intellectual property license that grants the public the right to access, customize, and distribute copyrighted material." Often a Creative Commons license is used. The word "open" is sometimes also used for free e-Books that are available but may not have open licenses.
Where Can They Be Found?
There are several repositories of open textbooks. Please see the links below.
What About Quality?
There is some concern about the quality of these works. Peer review is needed and some of the work has been done. The Open College Textbook Act, in fact, directs the Secretary of Education to "develop a peer review and evaluation process to ensure that these textbooks are of the highest quality, accurate in content, and meet or exceed market quality and accessibility standards." For now, however, the educator will probably want to check carefully for themselves.
As you would imagine, authors and peer reviewers are needed. There are many opportunities to review and to write your own textbooks. See the repositories below for reviewer information. If you are interested in writing your own book, you may want to explore lulu.com, a website that facilitates self-publishing.
What are Open Textbooks?
Learn more about what they are, how they're created, how to stay up-to-date, and how you can participate.
- Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources
- Global Text Project
- MERLOT Open Textbook Collection
- OER (Open Educational Resources) Commons
- Open Textbook Catalog - University of Minnesota
- Orange Grove
- Project Gutenberg
- Student PIRGs Open Textbook Catalog
- Affordable Learning Solutions