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Open Source & OER

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a textbook open?

A textbook becomes "open" when its copyright-holder grants usage rights to the public through an "open license," which typically includes the right to access, reformat, and customize it at no additional cost.

What do open textbooks look like?

Hard copies of open textbooks look much like traditional texts. The primary differences are that open textbooks are also accessible online at no cost and the hard copies are optional and affordably priced.

How many open textbooks are there?

Thousands of open textbooks already exist and more are on the way.


(Some text in this guide has been provided by the oer consortium and Erik Christensen.)

Frequently Asked Questions

Who pays open textbook authors?

Open publishing models are still evolving, so author payment varies. Some are paid royalties on print sales, some receive grant support, and others choose to write on their own time.

Are open textbooks high quality?

Many open textbooks are developed through traditional peer review, others are vetted by experts. As with any textbook, you are the final judge of whether an open textbook meets the needs of your course.

What do open textbooks look like?

Open textbooks are similar to traditional texts, but much more flexible. If desired, you can create a custom version by editing it yourself to match your classroom instruction. They are available in both print and digital formats:

  • Online, at no cost.
  • Downloadable PDF, at no cost.
  • Print-on-Demand, typically for $20-$40.

Authoring & Modifying Open Textbooks