It’s an expensive time to be a college student for all but the wealthiest of students, and tuition isn’t even the biggest expense. The College Board estimates that tuition and fees are approximately 39% of a typical undergraduate student’s budget, while they spend, on average, $1,298 per year on books and supplies. The continually increasing price of textbooks is a barrier for many college students, many of whom find they can’t afford the required course materials.
Portland State University Library has found one way to reduce the cost of attendance: the creation and adoption of open textbooks through a project called PDX Open. Open textbooks are faculty-authored, high quality textbooks made available for free online. Over the past few years, Portland State University Library has done something uncommon: working with faculty authors, the Library has published several open access textbooks free to students at PSU and to anyone with a computer and internet connection. The Library estimate that at least 500 Portland State students have saved $59,000 on textbooks through PDX Open.
PDX Open textbooks have been created for classes in several Portland State disciplines, University Studies, World Languages, Math, Education, Psychology, and Urban Studies.
Portland State students aren’t the only ones who have benefited. PDX Open textbooks have international reach: they have been downloaded in 75 countries including the United States, India, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Indonesia, South Africa, France, Canada, Philippines, Vietnam, China, and Mexico. Because of the library publishing infrastructure created through PDX Open, the Library’s project to reduce costs for PSU students is having global impact.
PDX Open by the Numbers
- Total number of PDX Open textbooks: 10
- Total number of open textbook downloads: 4,673 (as of March 24, 2016)
- Number of countries where textbooks have been downloaded: 75
- Number of Portland State students who have taken classes with PDX Open textbooks: 500
- Total savings to PSU students: $59,000
- Total cost of stipends to PSU faculty to author ten PDX Open textbooks: $25,000
In just two years, Portland State University Library has saved students more than double the amount invested in authorship of PDX Open textbooks. And that number is growing, as these textbooks continue to be used each term.
Several PDX Open textbooks are also available in the Open Textbook Library, a project of the Open Textbook Network, a consortium of colleges and universities working to advance open textbook initiatives. Portland State University is a member of the Open Textbook Network.
The Library also submitted a proposal to the Knight News Challenge to grow PDX Open even more.
For more information on PDX Open textbooks, please contact Karen Bjork, Head of Digital Initiatives at Portland State University Library.