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February 10th, 2012
Free textbooks coming for five intro college courses
Peer-reviewed books based on an open platform could be a model for colleges to trim student costs, educators say
College students in five of the most-attended courses in U.S. higher education soon will have free peer-reviewed textbooks available to them as a Rice University-based program looks to save students $90 million in book costs over the next five years.
OpenStax College, a textbook initiative funded by myriad nonprofits including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced Feb. 7 that books for introductory courses in physics and sociology would be freely available to students everywhere, not just on select campuses.
Unlike most open-platform texts—meaning the work is not copyrighted and available to reprint at no cost—the OpenStax College books are peer-reviewed, eliminating a stubborn impediment for professors and instructors who haven’t adopted open textbooks because they hadn’t been vetted like books from major publishing companies.
The physics and sociology books will be available online free of charge and accessible via computer, smart phone, and tablet. Students can order a printed color version of the books for $30 apiece.