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California Takes a Big Step Forward: Free, Digital, Open-Source Textbooks - Megan Garber - The Atlantic


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Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a proposal to create a website that will allow students to download digital versions of popular textbooks for free.

Why did California have to innovate this?

The new legislation encompasses two bills: One, a proposal for the state to fund 50 open-source digital textbooks, targeted to lower-division courses, which will be produced by California's universities. (Students will be able to download these books for free or pay $20 for hard copies.) The other bill is a proposal to establish a California Digital Open Source Library to host those books.

Why isn't a startup doing this?

Eleven Learning and boundless do similar things; I think the natural problem is inertia and syllabi.

Professors control the textbook market with their recommendations; they recommend or require a certain textbook, that textbook -- at least in the pre-Chegg era -- is/was only available for purchase brand new for $150.

Open textbooks won't change anything unless professors require/recommend them in lieu of new editions that have a few pages changed from the last edition and/or a creative resource that matches all required textbooks with open textbooks -- which is hard for the average student to discern at the moment of checkout and/or recommendation.

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