Open-source textbooks projected to save students $3.7M

Students are going without required textbooks because of rising prices.

The open-source online textbook publisher OpenStax College, which claims it could save students upwards of $750 million in textbook costs over the next five years, announced this week that their open-source books would cut textbook costs by $3.7 million during the 2013-14 academic year.

OpenStax College, a nonprofit based at Rice University, said adoption of its online textbooks had doubled since May, with more than 300 educational institutions worldwide using the open-source textbooks — an alternative that technologists have seen as an answer for skyrocketing textbook costs.

The nonprofit’s announcement said OpenStax College had exceeded its first-year textbook market share and usage among colleges and universities.

“Word-of-mouth endorsements are really spurring adoptions,” said David Harris, editor-in-chief of OpenStax College. “That’s great news for students by helping reduce their college costs while giving them access to high quality, peer-reviewed textbooks.”

The growing relevance of open-source textbooks — available for a fraction of the cost of traditional books — has been pushed by educators and technologists alike as surveys have shown high textbook costs impacting students’ educational experiences.

Six in 10 students at the University of California, Riverside said in fall 2011 that they did not purchase recommended class supplies—including textbooks—because they were strapped for cash.

See Page 2 for how textbook prices have impacted students’ lives…

Sixty percent of respondents to the UC Riverside survey said they “skipped buying [schools supplies] entirely,” two-thirds of students said they postponed buying textbooks and other supplies, leaving them without necessary class material in the first weeks of a course.

UC Riverside students said the price of textbooks – especially when they’re not available via rental services or buy-back programs – has had a major impact on their social lives.

Eight in 10 students said they spent less money on food to cope with book costs, and 83 percent cut back on going out with friends.

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