What is an open textbook?


An open textbook is an openly licensed textbook that is freely available to students, educators, and members of the public to reuse, revise, remix, retain, and redistribute. A type of open educational resource (OER), open textbooks are increasingly seen as a solution to the concerns with affordability and equitable access presented with commercial textbooks.

The development of open textbooks is often funded by philanthropic organizations (e.g., the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation), government (e.g., British Columbia Ministry for Advanced Education), universities (e.g., Oregon State University), and professional organizations (e.g., Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction). Many open textbook projects, such as OpenStax and the BC Open Textbook Project, target the highest-enrolled undergraduate courses for maximum impact.

Open textbooks are available for a wide range of disciplines and in a variety of digital formats to download and print. Professionally-bound print copies of open textbooks are also sometimes available, usually at a significantly lower cost than commercial textbooks. The development of ancillary materials (e.g., test banks, PowerPoint slides, etc.) to accompany open textbooks is also a growing trend.

OER, Textbook, open, license, access, OpenStax, BC Open Textbook Project, print, e-book, formats, ancillary materials, web, copyright, modification