Multiple Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG), including California’s CALPIRG, have published a report entitled the Billion Dollar Program, which displays the possibility for open textbooks to save $1.5 billion in textbook costs for students nationwide.
Open textbooks are faculty-written peer-reviewed textbooks that are published with an open license. This allows the textbooks to be available for free online, via download or published in print for as little as $10 to $40, depending on the size of the book. This allows individual students to save $128 on average per course, according to the report.
“One thing is clear, the current textbook market does not deliver the educational opportunity it can and should,” author Ethan Senack stated. The report argues that since the top five textbook publishers Pearson, Cengage, McGraw Hill, Holtzbrinck and Wiley hold 90 percent of the textbook market share, textbook costs can increase without repercussions.
Senack urges faculty members and institutions to consider adopting open textbooks for their classes. ”Institutions should convene campus stakeholders and launch their own open textbook programs based on the pilots described in this report — taking the initiative in reducing textbook prices while increasing access,” Senack concluded.