Open Textbooks

Open textbooks are high-quality college texts with an "open" copyright license allowing the material to be freely accessed, shared and adapted.   Open textbooks are typically distributed online at no cost and can be purchased in a variety of other print and digital formats at a low cost, including hard bound copies.  Using open textbooks in place of traditional textbooks saves students 80% on average.

About Open Textbooks

As far as the textbook material is concerned, open textbooks have many similarities with traditional textbooks.  The educational content is written and reviewed by experts, and it aims to cover a similar scope and sequence of topics.  Many even come with support materials like online homework, test banks, and supplemental videos.

What sets open textbooks apart is the "open" license, which enables two key features.  First, open textbooks can be legally shared, copied, and distributed, so students can access the material in a wide range of print and digital formats at little or no cost, without fear of expiration dates.  Second, open textbooks can be legally adapted by instructors, which makes it is possible to add new material, change terminology, or remove unnecessary chapters so the textbook perfectly fits a class.

More than 3,000 classes across the U.S. already use open textbooks, and professional-grade open textbook options are available in dozens of subjects already.  On average, the savings amount to 80% over what students would spend on traditional textbooks - that's over $10,000 for the typical 100-student class. 

Open Educational Resources

Open textbooks are part of an escalating international movement for open educational resources (abbreviated "OER"), which are educational materials—including everything from textbooks to lecture videos to practice quizzes—are made available free online under an open license.  This movement encompasses hundreds of projects including Khan Academy, MIT's OpenCourseWare program, an Open Course Library built by Washington State's community colleges, and more.