There are many inexpensive or free, high-quality alternatives to traditional textbooks available to instructors. Open textbooks are created by disciplinary specialists—sometimes originally for use in their own courses, sometimes expressly for the purpose of filling a perceived need for high-quality, affordable instructional material.
George Mason University has developed a tool that will search across multiple databases of free and low-cost texts — enter your subject area and give it a try, or browse the separate resources listed below.
Below are some resources listing open textbooks and other educational materials. Check out the Amazon-style reviews of many of these resources to see other instructors' opinions - just click on the titles!
OER Collections: Textbooks
OER Collections: Teach Without Textbooks
OER Collections: Move Beyond Text
Create Your Own Textbook!
If you're thinking about starting from scratch or adapting an existing open textbook, the University of British Columbia provides some good information:
Did you know that the library holds over 500,000 licensed e-books in a wide variety of disciplines? Many of these books permit unlimited simultaneous use, making them good options for assigned course readings.
Whether you have a specific book in mind or want to see what's available on a particular topic, the best place to start is Scholar OneSearch:
To filter your results so you see only e-books, choose "e-Books" under Filter My Results.
When you find a book that interests you, click on the Online Access link. If access to the e-book is limited to one or a few simultaneous users, this information will be listed:
While you can certainly still assign a reading from this book to your students, they may have to wait their turn to access it - just like if it were a physical copy on reserve in the library. But an e-book that doesn't mention limited access will not have this problem. (Interested in seeing if it's possible to increase the number of simultaneous users for a book you've found? Contact your subject librarian!)
Another place you can start your search is our Books & E-Books Directory, which is browsable as an A-Z list of our major e-book packages, or you can limit the list to specific disciplines.
To link to an e-book in Blackboard or on your syllabus, you will need a "permalink" — a URL that is not tied to a specific search session. Click here for our guide to Finding and Creating Permalinks.