OER: “UNC Press Initiative Aims to Tame the Soaring and Burdensome Cost of Textbooks”
From NC Policy Watch:
This month the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics released a new edition of Contemporary Precalculus Through Applications, the popular book and the only text in the school’s precalculus courses.
But this new edition is available digitally, for free, to not just students at the elite residential high school but high school and college students all over the state. The move is part of a partnership between NCSSM — the only high school that is part of the UNC System — and the nonprofit UNC Press.
Print copies of the book’s last edition, published by textbook giant McGraw-Hill, are now going for $50 on Amazon. But the new, updated edition is available as a free download. Even the new print edition will be sold at-cost, for $38.
It’s part of UNC Press’s commitment to “open educational resources” (OER), said John Sherer, Director of UNC Press. He hopes the the press will be doing this kind of work more and that it will be replicated by university presses in other states.
“I’ve been [at UNC Press] for ten years now and this all originates with an assessment I made early on when I got to the press. I asked, ‘What is the value of the UNC Press to the UNC System?’”
“When I got here I went around and talked to chancellors and provosts and said, ‘What are you looking for from the press?’” Sherer said. “None of them said the thing we do the most, which is publishing things in the humanities, scholarships and monographs. They said, ‘That’s great and we’re proud of you for doing that, but it’s not solving problems on our campuses.’”
But there were problems the press could tackle, Sherer said. “What they described was the publishing challenges they had,” Sherer said. “They described the stranglehold publishers have on journals — you have to buy these big bundles, which librarians hate — and on textbooks. They were talking about sustainable scholarship, essentially helping materials be more available and more affordable for students.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.