CoverI. Intellectual Property1. James Boyle, “The Why of Intellectual Property”2. James Boyle, “Thomas Jefferson Writes a Letter”II. Free Software3. Richard Stallman, “What is Free Software?”4. Richard Stallman, “The GNU Project”III. Open Source5. Eric Raymond, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”6. Eric Raymond, “Homesteading the Noosphere”IV. Open Content7. David Wiley, “About the Open Publication License”8. David Wiley, “Open Content: The First Decade”V. Defining Free9. Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The Four Freedoms Speech”10. Richard Stallman, “Four Freedoms”11. Erik Moller, “Freedom Defined”12. Bruce Perens, “Debian Free Software Guidelines”VI. Defining Open13. Bruce Perens, “The Open Source Definition”14. David Wiley, “Open Content”15. OKFN, “Open Definition”16. David Wiley, “The Access Compromise and the 5th R”17. David Wiley, “Open Definitions, Specificity, and Avoiding Bright Lines”VII. Open Source Software Licenses18. GNU General Public License19. BSD License20. MIT License21. Apache License22. Comparison of Open Source LicensesVIII. Open Content Licenses23. Creative Commons Licenses24. GNU Free Documentation License25. Open Publication LicenseIX. Open CourseWare26. Charles Vest, “Disturbing the Educational Universe: Universities in the Digital Age — Dinosaurs or Prometheans?”27. History of MIT OCW28. MIT OCW Evaluation Report (2005)29. MIT Reaches OCW Milestone30. David Wiley, “OpenCourseWars”X. Open Educational Resources31. UNESCO Forum on the Impact of Open Courseware for Higher Education in Developing32. Cape Town Open Education Declaration33. UNESCO, “2012 Paris OER Declaration”34. Wiley, Bliss, and McEwen, “Open Educational Resources: OER Literature Review”35. Boston Consulting Group, “Open Educational Resources: The OER Ecosystem”XI. Open Textbooks36. Nicole Allen, “Open Textbooks: A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Affordability”37. Frydenberg and Matkin, “Open Textbooks: Why? What? How? When?”XII. Research in Open Education38. OER Research Hub39. Open Education Group40. Marshall Smith, “Ruminations on Research on OER”XIII. The Economics of Open41. Yochai Benkler, “Coases Penguin, or Linux and The Nature of the Firm”42. Yochai Benkler, “Common Wisdom: Peer Production of Educational Materials”43. Yochai Benkler, “‘Sharing Nicely’: On shareable goods and the emergence of sharing as a modality of economic production”XIV. Open Business Models44. Eric Raymond, “The Magic Cauldron”45. OSI, “Open Source Case for Business”46. Various, “A Summer 2014 Conversation on Business Models in Open Education”

Nicole Allen, “Open Textbooks: A Cover to Cover Solution: How Open Textbooks are the Path to Affordability”

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The average student spends $900 on textbooks a year, which is 26% of average university tuition, and 76% of average community college tuition. Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) conducted groundbreaking research in 2010, surveying 1428 college students across ten campuses on the cost of the ten most common college textbooks. Student PIRGs makes several recommendations on how to reduce costs for students, mainly, that by using open textbooks students can realize 80% savings.

Key Points

The issue of high cost textbooks emerges in part due to the lack of transparency in the process and in the end user accountability being waylaid by uninvolved middlemen. Publishers provide the textbook information to the administration or faculty who oftentimes  make selections based on factors other than cost. New laws, however, such as the Higher Education Opportunity Act, now require vendors to disclose textbook prices during marketing. Other tactics, such as releasing a new edition with minute cosmetic changes every 3-4 years, bundling curriculum packages and not selling textbooks individually, or engaging in “resale sabotage” by reselling items that have no resale value like a 180 day textbook subscription.

The existing marketplace is changing. Students can now rent textbooks in either hardcopy or digital formats. E-books and e-readers are also available, but many students still prefer a traditional textbook. Alternate models are currently emerging. Open-source textbooks are available online under an open-source license, provide free digital access, low cost printing and customization.

Student PIRGs found that textbook affordability solutions must satisfy a wide range of student preferences:

Therefore, the solution must reduce costs and appeal to a wide range of students, both of which open textbooks can accomplish. And it seems as though open textbooks can incentivize publishers to respect students as consumers.

The research recommendations includes the following:

Discussion Questions

  1. Students who prefer print text books cite readability/notetaking. How can open textbooks be more readable and conducive to note taking?
  2. Why are students choosing to rent some of their books?
  3. How can authors increase textbook relevance so students will be more likely to keep them?

Additional Resources

CK-12 Foundation

OpenStax College


Open Textbook Library

College Open Textbooks