Estimates of how much college students spend on textbooks vary widely. On the low side, the National Association of College Stores charges that students spend around $650 annually on books. College Board estimates put textbook costs at more than $1,100 a year.

Exorbitant textbook costs have had academic consequences for many students, as seven in 10 community college students say they forego purchasing required books because they can’t afford the texts.

OpenStax College – which serves 150 colleges and universities — will double its available textbook titles with grant money from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.

The nonprofit spends about $500,000 to develop each free textbook, according to the group’s announcement.

OpenStax has partnered with more than a dozen for-profit companies that provide supplementary material for college textbooks, including online homework and assessments that have been packaged with OpenStax titles.

“Changing textbooks is a lot of work for an instructor, so they only do it every few years,” Baraniuk said. “Our goal is to make it very easy for an instructor to choose our book the next time they update their course curriculum.”


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