University Business - September 2008 - (Page 10)

EDITOR’S NOTE Open Textbooks Aim to Cut College Costs HAT WOULD YOU PAY FOR A COPY OF Introduction to Economic Analysis by R. Preston McAfee? $100? $150? How about nothing? Not to sound too much like a late night infomercial, but that’s the price for the book by McAfee, who teaches at the California Institute of Technology. He is one of many authors who have turned to the “open textbook” licensing model of- mercial texts, but without the costs associated with releasing fered by groups such as Creative Commons and GNU. a revised edition. Open textbooks are available online for free. Students and According to the Government Accountability Offaculty can read them as digital documents or print the parts fice, textbook and supply prices account for about a quarthey need. Some books also have a print on demand feature, ter of tuition and fee costs at four-year public schools, and where a professionally bound copy of the book can be pur- nearly three times that at community colleges. A group chased for a fraction of the price of a called Make Textbooks Affordable commercial textbook. A printed copy (www.maketextbooksaffordable A growing list of authors of McAfee’s book, for example, sells been pressuring choose to publish under a .org) haslegislation to curbCongress for $11.10 plus shipping. A portion to enact excessive of that cost goes to the authors but, prices as part of the College Opporlicense that allows others for the most part, making money isn’t tunity and Affordability Act of 2008 to build on their work. their objective. (HR 4317). At this writing, the bill “[Publishers] issue new editions awaits President Bush’s signature. frequently to kill off the used book market, and the rapidity Still, with more open textbooks becoming available, a of new editions contributes to errors and bloat,” writes McA- growing number of instructors have joined the chorus of fee. “Moreover, textbooks have gotten dumb and dumber those who would avoid dealing with publishers at all. Make as publishers seek to satisfy the student who prefers to learn Textbooks Affordable lists more than 1,230 college instrucnothing. Many have gotten so dumb (‘simplified’) so as to be tors who have pledged to give preference to low or no-cost simply incorrect. And they want $100 for this schlock?” open textbooks over commercial textbooks if they best fit the This is an idea whose time has come. Students and faculty needs of a class. That’s just a drop in the bucket, but it could have complained for years that publishers have sought to in- be the beginning of a wave for open source textbooks. crease their profits by issuing superficially revised editions of texts, or packaging them with supplemental materials, such CALL FOR SPEAKERS as CDs and DVDs, that often go unused. It’s that time again. EduComm 2009 is accepting speaker Giving instructors the ability to use low-cost or no cost proposals for the sixth annual conference, which will take alternative texts, or to be able to use portions of texts to build place in the Orlando Convention Center, June 17-19. If their own course packs, without fear of copyright violations, you are interested in joining our growing roster of speakers, just makes sense. A growing list of authors choose to publish visit to access the new online their work through Creative Commons (www.creativecom- speaker proposal form., under a license that allows—and encourages— others to build on the work, while maintaining credit and permissions designated by the original author. Revisions and updates can be made in this way—the same as with com- Write to Tim Goral at W 10 | September 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - September 2008

University Business - September 2008
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Editor's Note
Behind the News
Sense of Place
Human Resources
A Virtual Visit Welcome
Development Directors Speak Out
NACUBO in the Windy City
Facilities Focus
Money Matters
Financial Aid
Endowment Management
What's New
End Note

University Business - September 2008