Free textbook developer could save students $750M over five years

Textbooks prices have risen faster than tuition.

OpenStax College, a publisher based at Rice University, announced last week that the nonprofit would more than double the number of free online textbooks over the next two years.

Perhaps as noteworthy as the group’s plans to double its available titles is the three-year goal of OpenStax officials: to offer no-cost online textbooks for 25 of the most popular college courses while capturing 10 percent of the textbook market and saving students upwards of $750 million over five years.

Those massive five-year savings depend on OpenStax carving out a considerable spot in the competitive textbook market, of course, but Rice professor and OpenStax College founder Richard Baraniuk said it is a realistic and worthwhile goal.…Read More

Colleges taking a team approach to eTextbooks

Six in 10 students said in a recent survey that they forgo buying required books because textbooks are too pricey.

Reining in exorbitant textbook costs is no longer a campus-by-campus venture: A unified approach, powered by EDUCAUSE and the Internet2 consortium’s NET+ cloud-based collaborative purchasing program, could make low-cost electronic textbooks available now, ed-tech leaders hope.

Colleges experimenting with digital textbooks can take months—sometimes years—to negotiate with publishers before their school’s modest eBook program is introduced to students now paying upwards of $1,100 a year for books.

This fall, campus technology leaders will closely track the results of an expansive eTextbook pilot program ranging across 28 campuses, creating what many in higher education believe could be a model for quickly bringing low-cost textbook options to students who, in some cases, have stopped buying required texts because they cannot afford the books.…Read More

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

College students go without textbooks as prices rise

UC Riverside tuition and fees have risen by $2,000 since last year.

Six in 10 students at the University of California, Riverside said they forgo purchasing recommended class supplies—including textbooks—because they’re strapped for cash.

The findings from UC Riverside, a campus of 20,000 students, reflect results of similar surveys conducted by the Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), an organization that has pushed for open online textbook programs that could slash book costs to a fraction of the $1,000 student spend today.

And while 60 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.…Read More

New textbook exchange site helps students ‘defy’ publishers

College students spend more than $900 annually on textbooks.

After a bachelor’s degree, a law degree, and a business degree, Derek Haake estimates his total textbook costs at around $20,000 — and now he’s hitting back at the publishing industry with a website that could slash college students’ book costs.

Haake, of Akron, Ohio, launched the site BookDefy.com in April, creating a forum for students hoping to sell their textbooks for more than a few bucks to peers looking to save cash on used books.

Read more about textbooks in higher education……Read More