Big Savings for U.S. Students in Open-Source Book Program

D.D. Guttenplan | The New York Times | February 12, 2012

Big savings for U.S. students in open-source book project

Students worried about the rising cost of college textbooks are about to get a break. Connexions, an initiative at Rice University in Houston devoted to producing textbooks using open-source materials, will produce free textbooks for five of the most-attended subjects in American colleges.

Funded by a number of philanthropies, including the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the OpenStax College textbooks “will be competitive with texts that currently retail for $150 or more,” said the books’ editor in chief, David Harris. “Furthermore, because our content is openly licensed, faculty will be able to easily modify and adapt OpenStax College content to meet specific course needs.”

Physics and sociology texts are due out next month and texts for introductory biology, anatomy and physiology are scheduled for next fall. Connexions’ director, Richard Baraniuk, said, “if we capture just 10 percent of the market with these first five textbooks” students in the United States could save $90 million over the next five years...