Open Access Textbooks

[Skip Navigation]


Articles & Conference Proceedings

The Open Access Textbook project and the Florida Distance Learning Consortium sponsored a one-day symposium in Lake Mary, Florida on February 8, 2012, titled Developing a Digital Textbook Strategy for Your Campus. The goal of the symposium was to provide attendees with an understanding of the national trends in the realm of digital and open textbooks for postsecondary education, to provide them with information about statewide and institution-level models for programs to put high quality digital and open textbooks in the hands of students at the lowest possible cost. The symposium sought to open a dialog between educators who were considering or planning a digital textbook initiative and those who had experience administering such initiatives.

Open-access textbooks and financial sustainability: A case study on Flat World Knowledge. (2011, June). Hilton III, J., & Wiley, D. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(5), 17-24. After one year of operation, Flat World Knowledge, a company dedicated to producing and distributing open textbooks and ancillaries, had completed beta-testing it's financial model. Hilton and Wiley report on the financial sustainability of this business model.

Speakers at the 2011 EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) Annual Meeting, Educating in the Open: Philosophies, Innovations, and Stories, explored "the many meanings of 'openness': open textbooks, open curriculum, open research, and open resources, as well as openness to new ideas." Susie Henderson, former director of the Open Access Textbook project, described, along with Jade Roth, VP at Barnes & Noble, the Open Textbook Puzzle.

Open textbook adoption and use: implications for teachers and learners. Petrides, L., Jimes, C., Middleton-Detzner, C., Walling, J., & Weiss, S. (2011, February). Open Learning, 26(1), 39-49. The Community College Open Textbook Project (CCOTP) supports faculty in the use of open textbooks. This article presents the findings of research conducted by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management of Education (ISKME) that investigated patterns of adoption by faculty and use by faculty and students with the support of CCOTP.

Where the textbook dollar goes ... (2010). National Association of College Stores (NACS). This one page graphic breaks down the average cost of a textbook by wholesale cost, college store personnel, college store income, college store operations, and freight expense, according to the data NACS collected from its member stores.

A classroom experiment: Ditching a textbook.  Cavender, A. (2010, July 16). [Web log post]. The Chronicle.  What do faculty say about teaching without textbooks? Read the comments attached.

A new chapter for campus bookstores. (2010, April). This April University Business article discusses how rental programs and new technologies are helping to make textbooks more affordable.

A textbook case for low-cost books. (2010, July).  David Lewis (Indiana University) suggests higher education institutions can provide immediate relief to students and also create longer term sustainable, responsive, and cheaper ways of producing and distributing textbooks and other course materials.

Academic libraries must keep redefining themselves. (June, 2010). This article discusses some of the trends that will require our definitions of academic libraries to evolve.

Affordable and Open Textbooks: An Exploratory Study of Faculty Attitudes. (2010). Acord, S.K., Dixson, J., Harley, D., & Lawrence, S. Califorinia Journal of Politics and Policy. 2,(1). This research explored faculty perceptions and found that any discussion of textbook affordability solutions must take into account that most faculty are independent decision makers when choosing a text or other curricular materials. Students represent a plethora of learning backgrounds and goals and want flexibility and choice. (Guest login).

Cambridge aims to become the world's library. (2010, June 4). Cambridge University Library will begin digitizing its books to launch its Digital Library for the 21st Century. This effort was made possible by a gift from Dr. Leonard Polonsky. The first collections to be digitized will be entitled The Foundations of Faith and The Foundations of Science. The same British philanthropist has given $2.2-million to the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries to support the Bodleian's current efforts to digitize materials that promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship.

Cerritos College implements open textbooks. (2010, March 23). President/Superintendent Dr. Linda Lacy discusses the implementation and the success of the open textbook initiative at Cerritos College.

Hacking the academy by the Center for History and New Media, George Mason University. (2010, May). Scholars Compile Academic Book From Twitter and Blogs. Two academics put out an online call for material, and produced a edited volume about academe in the digital age called, Hacking the Academy.  According to organizers Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt, of George Mason University's Center for History and New Media, “In keeping with the spirit of hacking, the book will itself be an exercise in reimagining the edited volume.”  Work is continuing on the volume as a collaborative online activity.

Handheld E-Book Readers and Scholarship: Report and Reader Survey. Gielen, N. (2010, August). ACLS Humanities E-Book
White Paper No. 3. Also available in PDF version.

Inaccessible e-readers may run afoul of the law, Feds warn colleges.  (2010, June). This article discusses the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division’s response to questions whether e-book practices at several universities violated the rights of blind students under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Information on the new DMCA exemptions. Fitzpatrick, K. (2010, July 27). [Web log post]. The Chronicle. Read about some of the exemptions to The Digital Millennium Copyright Act that are related to the permitted educational use. The article also provides a link to the Library of Congress Rulemaking website.

Large gift will speed digitization at Oxford's Bodleian libraries by Wilhelm, Ian. (2010, June 16). British philanthropist Dr Leonard Polonsky has given $2.2-million to the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries to support the Bodleian's current efforts to digitize materials that promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship.

Linked In with: A writer who questions the wisdom of teaching with technology. (2010, July). The Chronicle’s interview with Nicholas Carr regarding his new book, The Shallows. The author discusses his view that the Internet is rewiring our brains and what this means for teaching and research.

Most students prefer print textbooks to digital versions, survey finds. (2010, May). Seventy-four percent of the students surveyed last fall by the National Association of College Stores said they still prefer to use a printed textbook when taking a class.  Students at 19 institutions were included in the survey, part of the Student Watch study conducted by a division of the National Association of College Stores.

New digital textbooks could save hundreds for CU-Boulder students. (2010, April). This April posting from presents some strategies used at this institution to reduce textbook costs.

Open source textbooks hit key point in the S curve. Blankenhorn, D. (2010, August 24). [Web log post]. ZDNet.

Open textbook remixed in 11 days. (2010, April). Timothy Vollmer (Creative Commons) reports on a University of Michigan professor who successfully adapted ten chapters of an existing textbook, Python for Informatics, in less than two weeks – enabling him to use the remixed text for his course.

Princeton students, profs give Kindle mixed grades. (2010, February). Eschool News reports on how Amazon’s Kindle DX electronic reader reduced printing in a semester-long pilot program, but many students found the technology limiting

Purdue professor embeds hyperlinks in printed books. Miller, Mary Helen. (2010, May 28). People who prefer print books over e-books may still want extra digital material to go with them. Sorin Matei's project, Ubimark, embeds books with two-dimensional codes that work as hyperlinks when photographed. So far there's just one book available in English, Around the World in 80 Days, with the bar-like codes. (See the Around the world in 80 days with 2D codes YouTube demo). A collection of scholarly essays in Romanian, Mr. Matei's native language, will be available soon.

Some colleges to test dual-screen e-reader devices. Truong, K. (2010, August 6). [Web log post]. The Chronicle. College students are testing new LCD e-readers with extended capabilities.

Students retain information in print-like formats better (2010, March) by Jill Laster. This article reports on a study at Arizona State University that found students had lower reading comprehension of scrolling online material than they did of print-like versions. The article links to the full 2009 report, To scroll or not to scroll: Scrolling, working memory capacity, and comprehending complex texts, written by Christopher A. Sanchez and Jennifer Wiley.

Trading spaces: Science libraries confront print's decline. Li, S. (2010). [Web log post]. The Chronicle.

Traditional vs online textbook cost comparison. (2010, April). Brian Evans, Economics professor at Foothill College, created this PowerPoint showing the results of his study of 253 Introductory Economics students. About half the students used a traditional book and the other half used a text that was free online, with an option to purchase a print copy. His results include: difference in cost for the open text, as compared to traditional text, student usage of the online text, and student satisfaction. View the PPT. Thanks to Rod Kirk (San Jose State, and Community College Open Textbook Collaborative) for this posting. 

U Cincinnati and OhioLINK Research Digital Textbook Adoption. Schaffhauser, D. (2010). An Ohio research project is investigating just how students would prefer to get the text for their courses--whether in hard copy form, in versions suitable for mobile devices, or in some other digital format. The research initiative is part of the University System of Ohio's affordable textbook efforts in accordance with the State of Ohio's 10-year Strategic Plan for Higher Education.

2009 - 2008

 Kirtas and digitization: An update, (2008). Emory University is digitizing a number of rare, out-of-copyright books, with intentions to recover some of the costs involved in this effort.

Open Learning: What Do Open Textbooks Tell Us about the Revolution in Education? Matkin, G. (2009). Research & Occasional Paper Series: CSHE.1.09. Center for Studies in Higher Education. This paper provides a summary and assessment of the current development of open textbooks and describes a possible direction for future development and funded support of open textbook projects.

Print your favorite Wikipedia articles as books, courtesy of PediaPress. Wauters, R. (2009, February 27). TechCrunch. Create customized printed books from wiki content with a new free tool. Combine the advantages of up-to-date and in-depth knowledge with the convenience of printed books. Books are typeset and printed on demand based. There is a fee attached.

The open revolution: An environmental scan of the open textbook landscape, (August, 2009). Jordan Frith, NC State University. This article examines several open textbook platforms in depth (Wikibooks, Connexions, Flat World Knowledge, The Global Text Project, and Textbook Media). The author concludes that this movement is dynamic and still evolving.

Conference Proceedings

March 2010

Textbook evolution: Texts in the 21st Century, evolution of the textbook. March 5, 2010, Tulsa, OK.


Read resources related to the University of North Texas Open Access Symposium , held on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at their Denton campus. Read an overview of Stevan Harnad’s keynote address, Designing the Optimal Open Access Mandate.

XML 101: It's not just markup anymore. Kellogg, D. (2009) - slideshare presentation which provides an introduction to the languages and issues of publishing in a digital age.


Funded by Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE)