Open Textbooks Aren’t Happening Yet

October 1, 2010 at 8:59 am 3 comments

An activist group has called for open textbooks to reduce student costs, but points out that there are few books available.  The report doesn’t address the question of who will write open textbooks and why.

Altogether, that means that if all of a student’s professors adopted an open text, that student would spend an average of 80 percent less than he or she currently does on textbooks, according to the group’s report.

That scenario is unrealistic right now. While it has seen a bump in adoption this year, Flat World still offers only about 20 titles. And the open-textbook landscape beyond Flat World’s modest catalog is a bit of a wild west. An informal study released earlier this year, commissioned by Student PIRGs and carried out by the University of California at Berkeley, found that faculty members believed “there were no high-quality and reliable open textbooks currently available in their subjects that were comparable to the print/traditional textbooks they used.”

“It is clear,” the Berkeley authors continued, “that there are many, many fields and subfields with no viable and acceptable open textbooks at this time.”

via News: A Call for Open Textbooks – Inside Higher Ed.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gary Litvin  |  October 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Open textbooks would become viable if NSF or another organization funded high-stakes competitions for their development with substantial prizes. Not all textbooks are created equal. Textbook authors should be fairly compensated for their work — other creative professionals are.

    Gary Litvin

  • 2. Alfred Thompson  |  October 1, 2010 at 11:41 am

    The big question is who will write these books and why with they do it? Anyone who has written one will tell you there is a lot of work that goes into writting a textbook. I think that few do it for the money and Lord knows the hourly rate for the ones I have written hardly justify the effirt. Only a few books make a lot of money from what I hear.
    Ego plays a part for some (I admit to that) but is not enough to justify the effort really. And there these are the people who write books out of desperation – no one else has written the book they think they need. But I think that for most the money, small as it may be, is what kicks people off the fence to actually do the writing.
    Editing is a whole other issue and I would agree that editing and book design are real added value that publishers provide. And that costs money for the most part.

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