OpenStax Textbooks Save Students a Cool Million

One of reasons faculty cite for their reluctance to adopt an open textbook is the impression they have that many open textbooks are of substandard quality. Or else they feel the quality of an open textbook is uncertain since many don’t go through the traditional vetting and review process used by commercial publishers. Enter OpenStax College. OpenStax is an initiative of Rice University, funded by a number of philanthropic foundations, including The Hewlett Foundation, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Twenty Million Minds Foundation, to develop open textbooks that are rigorously peer-reviewed by educators to ensure they are readable, accurate, and meet the scope and sequence requirements of the course. From eCampus News:

OpenStax College, a start-up online textbook publisher launched early this year, announced Aug. 14 that its first two book titles, College Physics and Introduction to Sociology, have “sold” more than 13,000 free copies – enough to save students $1 million during the upcoming fall semester.

Richard Baraniuk, OpenStax College’s founder and an engineering professor at Rice, said students would save more money this fall than it cost to create the sociology and physics textbooks, as educators at 55 colleges and universities have committed to using the textbooks this fall.

One of the 55 professors to adopt an OpenStax textbook is Virginia Highlands Community College professor, David Smith, who is using the Physics textbook in a course this fall.


  • lauren

    I think this is awesome professor smith is doing this. I wish more professors would. I have been using sites like and openbook project to find some free open source etextbooks, but the selection is really limited. College is expensive enough, cutting textbook costs help out a ton.


    • rsebastian

      Thanks for the comment. I found out about VHCC professor David Smith’s adoption of the OpenStax College Physics textbook quite by happenstance, so I assume there are more faculty members in the VCCS currently using or planning to use open texts in their courses. Dr. Miles McCrimmon at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College has published a book that he has openly licensed and shared on Flat World Knowledge, where students can read it online for free or buy a printed copy at a low cost. Also, I know of coordinated efforts at New River Community College and Tidewater Community College to investigate the adoption of open textbooks.

      In what subject area are you looking for open textbooks?

      • lauren

        Im just taking electives now, so the subjects of the books I need change quite a bit with each semester, but I am just happy to see professors using free or cheaper options for students, it really helps cut the costs of college for the student. Thanks again for passing along this info, rsebastian!

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