Projects Underway

Open SUNY Textbooks

Cyril Oberlander

Project Team
  • Charles Lyons, University at Buffalo
  • Open SUNY Textbook participating Libraries or IT

Geneseo, State University College at


Tier Two

Project Abstract:

Creating open access content for Open SUNY that scales means developing new service frameworks; libraries can help provide that new infrastructure. The IITG grant would fund an innovative and collaborative pilot to develop SUNY open textbooks and develop the venture partnerships to sustain open textbook publishing among SUNY institutions. The grant specifically provides incentive funding to invite faculty to create open textbooks during a pilot phase that; expands access to education; engages libraries in publishing pilots that help to encourage access to higher education, and promotes academic reusable content models; explores student roles in publishing with faculty; develops publishing skills and infrastructure that can support Open SUNY, and can expand to other forms and genre of publications; utilizes a hybrid distribution model; free access online and a fee for print on demand publishing editions.

Why SUNY Open Textbooks?

The U.S. General Accounting Office determined that between 1986 and 2004; tuition increased about 240% and textbooks increased 186% The National Association of College Stores estimated that in 2005, students and families spent about $6 billion on college textbooks and supplies. (GAO 2005 report) The escalating cost of learning is building barriers to access in higher education, and from our survey of students on textbooks, is leading to selecting classes based on the cost of required readings.

The primary goals of SUNY Open Textbooks are reducing barriers to higher education and developing libraries as publishing service infrastructure in higher education. Creating open textbooks is one strategy that can lower the cost of higher education and encourage innovation and collaboration. For example, the California Open Textbook Collaborative Statistics, is a 627 page Open Textbook available free at: The Community College Open Textbook Project CCOT estimated that from Fall 2008 – Winter/Spring 2009, 43 course sections at 8 colleges and one high school used Collaborative Statistics. If we estimate the cost of a similar textbook was $97 and about 25 students per section, this open textbook saved about $106K.

Developing academic publishing services for required course readings as an integrated part of the research, teaching, learning, and library/IT infrastructure can sustain the academy’s role as an affordable education model and promote Open SUNY.

The SUNY Open Textbook proposal is a pilot incentive program to encourage a community of practice among libraries that invites faculty to publish an open textbook. SUNY Open Textbooks is unique approach that is a collaborative framework and innovative partnership of faculty, librarians, instructional designers, and SUNY Press to develop open textbooks and hybrid publications that meet critical needs in higher education.

In addition, student participation in creating SUNY Open Textbooks is encouraged; a bonus incentive would be offered if faculty authors add student participation in the research and development of their Open Textbook; learning about scholarly communications by applied publishing activities provides a unique research, teaching and learning opportunity.

Basic Outline

Form distributed team to serve as the collaborative publishing partnership for SUNY Open Textbooks, current partnership includes; Libraries participating in the design of the call for proposals to faculty and coordinating publishing program: SUNY Geneseo, College at Brockport Library, University of Buffalo Libraries, Upstate Medical Library, Environmental Science & Forestry Library.

SUNY Press - Donna Dixon, Co-Director and Dan Flynn, A.D., Revenue & Business Operations, will be engaged in meetings to consult and advise on aggregators, conversion services, issues (permissions, resolution, etc.), royalties, suppliers and vendors in book distribution, etc.

Invite participation among; SUNY Faculty - invited and responded to the call for Open Textbooks authors; and SUNY Distinguished Professors and SUNY Faculty - invited to serve as editors.

The pilot involves a call for publishing an open textbook. Topical target publications may be established by participating libraries and integrated into the request for authors and editors, one such topic of interest would be a textbook on Environmental Health. The call for author submissions to publish and open textbook would describe various conditions, including the Creative Commons License applied. The submissions would be reviewed and awards distributed upon completion. If students are integrated into the research and publishing process and their involvement and learning assessed, the supervising faculty authors would be eligible for a bonus award.

Replication among SUNY: Program design documents will be provided to the SUNY Confluence wiki, so that other SUNY institutions can develop or adapt this kind of publishing and instruction program. Pilot partners will have the opportunity to further develop the publishing initiative, and perhaps include other types of publications.

SUNY Open Textbooks provides a very innovative and collaborative framework that resonates with SUNY strategies; SUNY and the Entrepreneurial Century, SUNY and the World, SUNY Learning Commons, and shared services.

Project Outcome:

Project website provides free access to over 15 textbook titles and is soliciting new material.