For decades, college professors have selected textbooks for students to use in class. Most of the textbooks are available at the college or university’s library, but the majority of students choose to purchase the texts for the sake of convenience. This convenience, according to the College Board, contributes to costs of college mounting to $1200 yearly when transportation and room and board are added in.
And these additional expenses are only expected to rise. In a 2013 report, the Government Accountability Office found that new textbook prices have increased by 82% between 2002 and 2012. (Although buying used textbooks might be a more affordable option for some, buying used typically corresponds to 75% of the price of new textbooks. So, when new textbook prices rise, so do used.)
However, in its role as a national leader of ensuring affordability and value to its hundreds of thousands of students, SUNY has made available five free, open textbooks that any student can use and is publishing at least 10 more in months to come.
The textbook initiative is called Open SUNY Textbooks, under the umbrella of the new Open SUNY online learning platform. Established by a consortium of public university libraries across New York, Open SUNY Textbooks publishes high-quality, cost-effective faculty-authored and reviewed texts in concert with SUNY Press.
Six SUNY campuses have collaborated to bring these texts to classes:
There are currently five books in the Open SUNY Textbook catalog, with titles ranging from “Native Peoples of North America” to “Natural Resources Biometrics.” One of the books – “The Information Literacy User’s Guide” – even contains interactive quizzes.
The 10 additional titles planned include Anthropology, Business, Computer Science, Education, English, Geological Sciences, Mathematics, Music Education, and Physics.
All are free and are available for download to your computer, tablet, or smartphone at the Open SUNY Textbook Catalog. We’ll update you once it becomes clear exactly which campuses will be using the books in class next semester!
Top photo: Adapted from bookshelf design on Deviantart
Emily Schwartz is the Coordinator of Open SUNY Communication and Projects.