“They have to win in the marketplace of ideas, the marketplace of academic freedom … and the marketplace of student demand,” Carlyle said.

The steadily increasing prices of textbooks have left many college students taking their chances without required course material.

Seven in 10 students who responded to a Student PIRGs survey said they hadn’t bought at least one required class book because of prohibitive costs. Nearly eight in 10 said taking the class without the needed book would “hurt their academic performance.”

Six in 10 college dropouts said the price of textbooks had affected them financially, according to a report from Public Agenda, a public opinion research organization based in New York.

Lindsey Cassels, a student at Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood, Wash., said the school’s four-quarter system means she has to dole out hundreds for new texts every few months, adding up to more than $2,000 a year.

Cassels used material from the state’s OCL in a public speaking course, and said she would be on much more secure financial ground if every class used OCL books.

“We end up in the hole having to pay for all these books,” said Cassels, an esthetic sciences major who returned to college at 32. “We leave school with a huge debt on our shoulders. … That’s why I hope all my courses can [use open course material].”

Not having to fret about a book’s resale value, students and professors said, has become a selling point for open course material.