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What do Textbooks cost? An Open Question

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Rising textbook costs have been highlighted as an issue for students’ higher education, particularly in North America. Less is known about the costs and forms in which books are available to students in higher education in Europe and specifically in Ireland. This is despite significant moves towards openly licensed digital books as a potential response via established open access publishing platforms. This research sought to address a gap in the scholarly understating of textbook usage and the potential pf open alternatives. We present the results of an analysis of the accessibility, cost and licensing of textbooks in Ireland taking one higher education institution as a case study. We report here on the findings of phase one of this study including the retail prices of over 500 books, the formats they are available in and those that may be in the public domain. The next phase of this study involved the design of two research instruments to use with staff and students as participants in a research study. These instruments were designed, with reference to the research literature on OER, to examine the current usage and perception of educational textbooks with the overarching aim of determining the relevance of digital open textbook platforms in the Irish context.

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What do Textbooks cost? An Open Question

  1. 1. What do Textbooks Cost? An Open Question *eamon.costello@dcu.ie @eam0 Dr Eamon Costello* Prof Mark Brown Mr Richard Bolger Dr James Bruton Dr Tiziana Soverino
  2. 2. • Open Source • Open Access • Open Science • Open Education • Open Educational Resources • Open Educational Practices • Open Washing Open Educational Practices
  3. 3. Textbooks
  4. 4. Phase 1: Review Eden conference 2018 best paper nominee
  5. 5. 1978 - 2013 textbook prices increase 812% 2014 annual average student spent $2000 (Baglione & Sullivan, 2016) Since 2006 the costs of textbooks increase by 73% - over four times inflation (Senack & Donoghue, 2016). 98% of faculty mandate a textbook (Allen and Seaman, 2016) textbook copyright infringement by students (Scorcu & Vici, 2012) What do books cost?
  6. 6. 1978 - 2013 textbook prices increase 812% 2014 annual average student spent $2000 (Baglione & Sullivan, 2016) Since 2006 the costs of textbooks increase by 73% - over four times inflation (Senack & Donoghue, 2016). 98% of faculty mandate a textbook (Allen and Seaman, 2016) textbook copyright infringement by students (Scorcu & Vici, 2012)
  7. 7. Open Textbooks
  8. 8. Key Challenges Raising brand awareness Increasing international presence
  9. 9. Textbooks at an Irish HEI
  10. 10. Results 3,000 books analysed 71.5% of books are required and the remaining 28.5% are recommended. Google books returned prices for 18% of books that we searched for. Of that sample the cost ranged from $0.99 to over $400.
  11. 11. Book Costs (Google Books) Mean $56.67 Mode $9.99 Median $40 Range: 0.99 to >$400
  12. 12. Cost in USD of Books 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500
  13. 13. Access Just over 40% of books with prices had electronic versions, either in PDF or ebook format such as epub or mobi.
  14. 14. Availability/Access 0.00% 20.00% 40.00% 60.00% 80.00% 100.00% PDF Available Ebook Available Public Domain
  15. 15. • Focus Groups • Educational Practices • Textbook use and non-use Current Research with Students and Staff at DCU
  16. 16. National Survey on Textbooks as OER In development
  17. 17. A textbook can range from $400 to $0.99 0.18% of books in public domain What does this mean for students? eamon.costello@dcu.ie

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