Smith, M. (2010) Why Pay for Intro Textbooks? Inside Higher Education, February 7
The books are peer reviewed, and could save students up to US$90 million a year in the USA, if they are adopted by university and college instructors. In the next five years, OpenStax hopes to have free books for 20 of the most common college courses, across a range of subjects.
Will this revolutionize the textbook industry? It will depend on a number of factors:
- the ‘absolute’ quality of the textbooks – are they instructionally well designed books with good physics?
- the ‘perceived’ quality of the textbooks – will instructors accept open access publishing?
- whether a sustainable business model can be developed. The cost of hiring the content experts and editing was covered by grants from at least four major US foundations. ‘Accessories’ to the main text books can also be purchased by students. But is this a sustainable business model? Only time will tell.
- if successful, will this limit the range of textbooks for some subjects, and thus reduce choice for instructors and students – or will it have the opposite affect?
In the meantime, this is definitely a good day for physics students.