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Open Educational Resources (OER): Open Textbooks

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What are Open Textbooks?

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What are Open Textbooks?

Open Textbooks are increasingly being created, remixed and modified across higher education institutions globally. They are textbooks licensed under an open copyright license, and made available online to be freely used by students, teachers and members of the public. 

Openly licensed textbooks can give faculty the ability to adapt any portion of a textbook, or to make the content of the textbook more pedagogically appropriate for their specific educational context. 
[Text adapted from BC Campus Open Textbook FAQ: and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License] 

Why Use Open Textbooks?

2014 study from the USA observed that the rising cost of textbooks not only adds to the overall financial burden of attending university, it can also have a measurable negative impact on students academic performance and success. A few key facts from the study:

  • students spend an average of $1200 per year on textbooks
  • textbooks costs have outpaced inflation by 300% over the last 30 years.
  • 7 out of 10 students have forgone purchasing textbooks because of cost
  • 48% of students say they altered which classes they took based on textbook costs

In a Florida legislative report, the governmental panel found that "there are compelling academic reasons to use open access textbooks," such as: 

  • improved quality, flexibility and access to resources, interactive learning experiences, currency of textbook information, broader professional collaboration, and the use of teaching and learning technology to enhance educational experiences. 

[Text modified from Wikipedia: and used under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license.]

More comprehensive information can be found here from BC Campus, one of the world leaders in the Open Textbook movement.

Find Open Textbooks

Below are some sites where you can find high quality open textbooks that you can use parts of, modify, or use as they are.
[This information has been adapted from Open Washington: under a CC-BY-4.0 license.] 

Open Text Books at CDU


Open Stax College


  • One of the most widely adopted open textbook repositories for higher education, with nearly 500 colleges and universities adopting OpenStax
  • ​​All textbooks are completely open with no strings attached.
  • OpenStax College makes it easy to get high-quality textbooks for your course. You can download the books in 5 different formats including print version.


  • All OpenStax textbooks are licensed under CC BY 3.0
  • This license lets you distribute, remix, modify, and build upon the original work, even commercially, as long as you credit the author for the original creation.

College Open Textbooks



  • As it provides the links to various external open textbooks, there is no default open license under which the materials are released.

OER Commons


  • OER Commons Open Textbooks search engine helps educators avoid time-consuming searches and find exactly the right textbook.

  • Search according to subject matter, Conditions of Use, Education Level, etc. to pinpoint what you need. 

  • Growing collection of over 50,000 high-quality OER available.

  • Focus is not just on cost savings- strong encouragement to participate and co-create.

  • Large number of textbooks and resources available in Health, Medicine and Nursing, along with other subjects.


  • Varies from text to text. Check conditions of use for each.

BC Campus


  • BCcampus is a curated collection of open textbooks that align with the 40 highest enrolled post-secondary subject areas in British Columbia.

  • They provide guidance for locating these existing open textbooks, adapting/adopting the existing open textbooks, and creating new open textbooks.
  • They constantly review and update the content.


  • All BC Campus materials are licensed under CC BY 4.0 which allows you to distribute, remix, modify, and build upon the original work, even commercially, as long as you credit the author for the original creation.

  • However, it’s important to check the license setting of the original source and follow the terms of use as the original licensor requested. Fortunately, BCcampus provides clear license information of each original source they’ve adopted.




  • Wikibooks may not look as fancy other open books providers but it is truly a community effort. Authors voluntarily start the book writing project, and readers can nominate them to be “featured books.”

  • You can contribute to an existing Wikibook or start a new Wikibook. If you cannot find the openly available textbook in your discipline area, this is a nice place to begin the work.

  • PDF versions are available for easy printing. To learn more about how to best utilize Wikibooks, please visit the Using Wikibooks page.


  • All Wikibooks are licensed under CC-BY-SA 3.0.

  • This license lets you remix, modify, and build upon the original work even for commercial purposes, as long as you credit the author and license your new creations under the identical terms.

Knowledge Unlatched


Knowledge Unlatched has made it possible for anyone in the world with an Internet connection to read books published through the Knowledge Unlatched project for free. A PDF Open Access version of unlatched books is available from OAPEN and HathiTrust if enough pledges are secured immediately after the pledging period ends or upon publication if the title is new. The Open Access version does not not carry DRM restrictions.

All KU titles are discoverable in OAPEN’s Directory of Open Access Books, HathiTrust’s Digital Library and through library discovery tools that include: EBSCO Discovery Service, Summon and Ex Libris. Books are also listed in the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB).

By building a sustainable market for Open Access books, readers in all markets, including the world’s poorest, can gain the widest possible access to high-quality scholarship.

Open Textbook Library


  • Open Textbook Library provides about 100 open textbooks from various disciplines.

  • These textbooks have proven quality and have been already used in classes at a large number of universities and colleges.

  • All textbooks are completely open.


  • Most textbooks on this website are licensed under under CC-BY-NC-SA

  • This license lets you remix, tweak, and build upon the original work non-commercially, as long as you credit the author and license your new creations under the identical terms.

Washington 45


  • Washington 45 provides a list of open textbooks that can be downloaded or used online. 


  • Each textbook has a different Creative Commons license. Be sure to check conditions of use.

DOAB Directory of Open Access Books



The primary aim of DOAB is to increase discoverability of Open Access books. Academic publishers are invited to provide metadata of their Open Access books to DOAB. Metadata will be harvestable in order to maximize dissemination, visibility and impact. Aggregators can integrate the records in their commercial services and libraries can integrate the directory into their online catalogues, helping scholars and students to discover the books. The directory is open to all publishers who publish academic, peer reviewed books in Open Access and should contain as many books as possible, provided that these publications are in Open Access and meet academic standards. 


Open Textbooks @CDU

Interested in using, modifying, or creating an Open Textbook?

If you are a lecturer at CDU and would like more information and support for using, modifying or creating an open textbook for your course, please contact either in the library or in the Innovative Media Production Studio. 

CDU is currently in the process of developing its OER policies and exploring funding for creation of open textbooks. Contact for more information or if you would like to be involved in this working group. 


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