Open Textbooks

As a tireless advocate for learners everywhere, Oregon State University is proactive in finding ways to make higher education more affordable, and a new program aims to rein in the cost of textbooks and ease the financial strain on students.

Slide comparing textbook costs and student success

The university's open textbook initiative is a collaboration between OSU Libraries, OSU Press and Open Oregon State. It provides financial, technical and editorial support for faculty members to create texts that will be freely accessible online to any student in the world.

In addition to relieving students of ever-increasing costs, these works will also feature interactive content that enhances learning through video, audio and other multimedia. The textbooks will be incorporated into OSU curriculum and include Creative Commons licenses to facilitate their use at other universities at no cost.

Prototype textbook

An OSU geosciences course used the university's first open textbook last winter, transforming "Living with Earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest," by Robert S. Yeats from print to digital. Yeats is a professor emeritus in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences.

Originally published by OSU Press in 1998 and used widely in college courses throughout the Northwest, Yeats' book has been updated to feature video clips of earthquakes where still photos once resided. An animation depicting the movement of tectonic plates replaced the book's previous line drawings. Plans are under way for Yeats to make additional updates and revisions.

Accepted proposals (phase 1)

Earlier this year, four winning proposals from OSU faculty were chosen for publication in the initiative's first phase:

  • Kevin Ahern and Indira Rajagopal, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Gita Cherian, Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences
  • John Lambrinos, Department of Horticulture
  • Shawn O'Neil, Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing

Publication of the four books will take place in 2014-15; they will be available in four interactive formats – HTML, PDF, iBooks and ePub – as well as in a print-on-demand edition.

Accepted proposals (phase 2)

An additional 16 textbooks are currently under development by Open Oregon State

Free textbook rally

On Nov. 4, 2015, Open Oregon State staged an event on campus to rally support for open, free textbooks. Those who spoke in support of the initiative included OSU President Edward J. Ray and Open Oregon State director Dianna Fisher. (Photos by Melissa Whitney)

President Edward J. Ray

Oregon State President Edward J. Ray speaks at the free textbook rally to express the university’s commitment to easing students’ financial burden.

Benny Beaver

Benny Beaver, Oregon State’s mascot, and a friendly ape show their support for reducing the cost of textbooks for OSU students.

Kevin Ahern

OSU biochemistry professor Kevin Ahern receives an award from the ASOSU for his efforts in making all course materials openly accessible to all students.

OSU students

OSU students gather near the Memorial Union to write on a large banner how they’d spend their money if textbook costs weren’t so exorbitant.

Call for use of open textbooks – Academic year 2016-17

Open Oregon State, in partnership with the OSU Libraries and OSU Press, is sponsoring an initiative for faculty to adapt/adopt open textbooks. There are many open texts already in existence that are of high quality and meant for lower-division, undergraduate, high-enrollment courses.
We are offering the opportunity for you to adapt/adopt one of these textbooks for use fall term 2016, winter term 2017 or spring term 2017 to use in your class. A stipend will be paid for the adoption and review of the open textbook. Technical assistance is available if you choose to adapt open materials to fit your needs.
Not sure what’s out there or what the quality is? Contact Dianna Fisher, director of Open Oregon State, and tell her what you're looking for, and she will provide a list of resources – starting with high-quality, peer-reviewed textbooks that you can use, reuse, modify and adapt to suit your needs.

Dianna Fisher
Director, Open Oregon State

RFP for Oregon State University open textbooks

Open Oregon State, in partnership with the OSU Libraries and Press (OSULP), encourages the development of open textbooks at Oregon State University. We seek proposals for the development of an open textbook by Oregon State faculty members or the submission of publication-ready book manuscripts that could be used in OSU courses and are in need of a publishing platform and distribution assistance. (An OSU faculty member must be the sole or lead author.) The textbook should be a geared toward a specific field of study. 

The author will be compensated with up to $10,000 in a budget transfer to a dedicated index within his or her department. These funds could be used for purposes such as course buy-out, professional travel, research support, etc. Advances will be available, with the schedule for disbursement and associated deliverables to be determined in consultation with the author.

Anticipated publication would occur on an agreed upon timeline depending on the nature of the work. The possibility exists for partnership with the OSU Press if the subject area falls within the OSULP’s area of emphasis. If it does, a given work could be an official Press publication.

To help us evaluate your project, we need to know more about you and your book. Please submit a proposal that provides all the information below. Please do not send the entire manuscript unless requested:

  1. Title of the manuscript.
  2. Your name, title, and affiliation. Please include your complete contact information. Include brief bios for coauthors if applicable.
  3. Briefly describe the content of your book and how it supports the intent of this open textbook RFP.
  4. Describe your qualifications as an author, as well as those of any coauthors.
  5. Describe your intended audience and any courses that would be likely to use the book at OSU or other schools.  
  6. List the significant books in print on this topic and explain how and why your book is different. What is its most distinguishing characteristic? What is its unique contribution to the field?
  7. How often do you anticipate revisions/updates will be required?
  8. Include a current CV or résumé.
  9. Have you submitted this to other presses? If so, to whom did you submit it?
  10. Please suggest two to three possible reviewers for your manuscript, including contact information, affiliation, etc.

Send proposal as an email attachment to:
Dianna Fisher
Director, Open Oregon State