Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New York Times endorses OA textbooks

An editorial in today's NYTimes recommends OA textbooks.  Excerpt:

The State of Washington is looking out for students and their families by passing a law requiring textbook companies to disclose prices and other relevant information when they market books to college professors in the state....

A 2005 study by the Government Accountability Office found that [textbook] costs had nearly tripled over some two decades, thanks in part to pricey but marginally useful CD-ROMs and instructional supplements, as well as the constant issuing of lucrative but little changed new editions — publishing’s version of planned obsolescence.

The [Washington] law is an important first step. But to really drive down costs, colleges and universities around the country will need to embrace creative solutions, like the one on display at the online Connexions system at Rice University.

That content, already in use for several courses at Rice and at other colleges and universities, is generated by a consortium of writers. Online use is free. And a 300-page hardcover electrical-engineering textbook can be printed out for about $25 — roughly one-fifth the cost of a book from a conventional publisher. Other universities should follow Rice’s creative lead. Students can use all the help they can get.