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!
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 200,000 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, first choose "Books" under Refine My Results, then choose "Full Text Online" under Show Only.
When you find a book that interests you, click on the View Online button. 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 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.