Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, May 15, 2008

OA to textbooks from Open U. of Israel

Ehud Zion Waldoks, Open University to put full textbooks on-line, Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2008.

The Open University [of Israel] has uploaded the full text of dozens of textbooks onto its Web site, which will be available to the public free of charge beginning next Thursday.

In the first initiative of its kind to place so many full texts on-line, the university has reformatted textbooks from 10 of its courses to a readable electronic format and posted them online.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was the first to start putting materials on-line six years ago, but the Open University's project is the first to place entire books on-line. ...

Next year, the university hopes to put textbooks and other course materials from 40 more courses on-line. ...

"Regarding copyrights, the books that were written specifically for us are ours to do with as we wish. However, there are pictures or quotes from other authors [for] which we have obtained permission from them," [said Prof. Ora Limor, vice president for academic affairs].

There was an open question about what it would do to the price of books, she added.

"We print a million volumes a year, and we don't know how this will affect that. We hope that it won't hurt sales, but rather the opposite - people will become interested by reading on-line and then go out and buy the book so that they can read it more comfortably or not have to print out hundreds of pages," she said.

Limor said the project had already cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and would probably cost more.

She added that audio versions of the books would also be available as MP3 downloads ...

Comment. I can't find other coverage of this news, and I can't get the site to load, so I don't know whether the textbooks are libre (available under an open license) or merely gratis (free of charge).

Update. Also see Ofri Ilani's story in Haaretz for May 27, 2008.

Update. See also the announcement by the university, posted at OCW Blog.