Openstax offers affordable textbook options

In an effort to help students with the cost of textbooks, SVSU has partnered with textbook provider OpenStax.

Tina Mullins, the Research and Open Education Resources (OER) librarian at the Zahnow Library, explained the new partnership.

“OpenStax is a publisher that provides free online textbooks,” Mullins said. “They are a non- profit organization affiliated with Rice University and receive funds from sponsors, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Both these foundations fund other open education initiatives.”

OpenStax provides textbooks to students, available for free online, as well as access to OpenStax Tutor, a homework assistance program.

The affordability of textbooks is extremely important to students.

“The cost for most textbooks is excessively high and these high costs can put a lot of financial pressure on students,” said Olivia Erwin, a biology junior. “More affordable textbooks could be extremely beneficial for students because it would reduce a lot of stress. I’m sure some students have trouble paying for other necessities, so a reduction in the price of textbooks could also combat some of the problem.”

The high cost of traditional print textbooks can put a burden on students and put some at a disadvantage for academic success.

“I think addressing textbook costs is important because making sure students have the right materials for their classes is critical for success,” Erwin said. “However, with high costs, some students who can’t afford books could potentially be at a disadvantage in their classes.”

OpenStax helps alleviate the burden on students, as well as provides unique tools for professors to use with their students.

“In addition to being free,

(open education resources) are openly licensed and can be adapted by faculty for their students,” Mullins said. “Unlike traditional textbooks, (open education resources) can be modified to include new information, local perspectives and/or marginalized voices.”

Textbooks from OpenStax are available in a variety of formats.

“OpenStax books are available to read online, download as a PDF, and print,” Mullins said. “They can also be embedded in Canvas.”

Anyone can access OpenStax textbooks, but they do not cover all subject areas.

“OpenStax primarily publish- es textbooks for high-enrollment introductory courses,” Mullins said. “Textbook decisions are made by faculty, so students should purchase the required material for their courses. We hope the partnership with OpenStax will encourage more faculty to adopt affordable materials.”

Students can access affordable textbooks via OpenStax now.

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