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Textbook Alternatives  

Last Updated: May 29, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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No-cost and low-cost alternatives

With the continued increases in textbook prices faculty often look for less expensive alternatives to cover the same learning objectives. This guide provides information about options offered through open educational resources projects, as well as resources and services offered through the WMU Libraries.


The problem

  • College textbook prices have increased 812% since 1978. The Consumer Price Index has increased 250% during this time. (Perry, 2012)
  • The average student in the U.S. spends $1137 annually on textbooks. (College Board, 2013)


Perry, M. J. (2012, December 24.) The college textbook bubble and how the open educational resources movement is going up against the textbook cartel [blog post]. Retrieved from


College Board. (2013). Quick guide: college costs. Retrieved from

Locating open access textbooks

  • Open Textbook Catalog
    Provided by the University of Minnesota, this is a searchable catalog of open textbooks for use by faculty.
  • OER Commons
    Open Educational Resources Commons contains full courses, modules, syllabi, lectures, homework assignments, quizzes, lab activities, pedagogical materials, games, simulations, and many more resources contained in digital media collections from around the world.
    Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) is a free and open peer reviewed collection of online teaching and learning materials and faculty-developed services contributed and used by an international education community.
  • Openstax College
    OpenStax College offers students free textbooks that meet scope and sequence requirements for most courses. These are peer-reviewed texts written by professional content developers.
  • Connexions
    The Connexions consortium hosts this repository and a content management system. Connexions includes more than 17,000 learning objects in all subject areas.
  • Orange Grove: Florida's Digital Repository
    Collection of open books and textbooks from a variety of sources.
  • Global Textbook Project
    Focuses on undergraduate course textbooks in all subject areas.

Open textbook adoption

Off Campus Services Librarian

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Michele Behr
Contact Info
2017 Waldo Library
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5353
Phone 269-387-5611
Fax: 269-387-5124
AIM: MicheleAtWMU
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