University looks to remove barriers to open textbooks

Seven in 10 college students say they don't buy required textbooks because they cost too much.

Low-cost, open-content textbooks are universally popular on college campuses, but two burning questions have stunted the open textbook movement: Where can faculty and students find these resources, and how can they be sure the books are of the highest quality?

The University of Minnesota (UMN) set out to answer both questions with its April 23 introduction of the campus’s Open Academics textbook catalog, an online repository of textbooks with an open license that lets students read the books for free online, or order a printed version for a fraction of the usual textbook cost.

UMN’s open textbook library, with 90 books in stock, will first provide textbooks for the school’s largest introductory classes, with plans to expand to smaller courses in coming years.…Read More

Web developers unleash code in hopes that students will take on bookstores

College students lauded the release of TextYard's code.

The creators of a popular online textbook service are arming college students with open source code that might give rise to low-cost textbook sites and create competition for campus bookstores.

Ben Greenberg and Rui Xia, co-founders of the site TextYard, announced Feb. 14 that they are moving on to another project, and that their last action at TextYard would be making their code open source – a move that large bookstores are expected to combat with new security methods.

Making the code public means even students with “rudimentary coding skills” can create their own online textbook stores that pose a challenge to campus bookstores, TextYard said in an announcement.…Read More