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Open textbooks - finding and using

This guide provides resources for finding open textbooks as well as information on how to adapt them to coursework.

Open Textbooks

Websites that offer searchable interfaces for finding and downloading open textbooks:

Name Description Disciplines covered Peer Reviewed?* Format(s)**
BC Campus Open textbooks created as a part of British Columbia's open textbook initiative. Multidisciplinary Yes PDF, HTML, EPUB, Mobi
OpenStax Initiative from Rice University to provide open textbooks.  Multidisciplinary Yes PDF, HTML, iBooks
Open Textbook Library Catalogue only ; locates open textbooks from across a variety of platforms. Multidisciplinary Yes Varies by book
SUNY Open Textbooks Open textbook initiative sponsored by SUNY Library as well as the SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant.  Multidisciplinary Yes PDF, EPUB, iTunes
National Academies Press Reports  released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, operating under a charter granted by the Congress of the United States.This press releases its books for free online and for purchase in print. More restrictive usage rights; provide link rather than distributing full PDF.  Science, Medicine, and Engineering No PDF, HTML
American Institute of Mathematics Open access textbooks that have been approved by the Institute's editorial board.  Mathematics Editorial Review PDF, DOC

*Peer reviewed: Material has been peer-reviewed by experts in the field.

** Formats can be evaluated in two ways: how easy they are use and how easy they are for instructors to adapt:

  • PDF: Stable, easy to download and print ; accessible via most computer programs.Difficult to adapt without the program Adobe Pro. 
  • HTML: Easy to view and print ; Compatible with accessibility programs (e.g. text to speech). Hard to download and adapt.
  • EPUB: eBook format. Compatible with eReaders like Kobo, Apple and Android products. Easy to download and use if student has eBook reader. Difficult to adapt. 
  • Mobi: Compatible with Kindle eReaders. Easy to download and use if student has eBook reader. Difficult to adapt. 
  • iBooks: Compatible with Apple products (e.g. Ipad, Iphone etc.). Easy to download and use if student has eBook reader. Difficult to adapt. 
  • DOC: Word document. Easy to download and print. Good for adapting content. 

Open eBooks

Websites/publishers that list open ebooks:

Name Description Disciplines covered Peer Reviewed?* Format(s)**
Luminos (University of California Press) Open monograph publishing program by University of California Press. Humanities, Social Sciences Yes EPUB, Mobi, PDF
Athabasca University Press Open monograph publishing program by Athabaska University Press Distance Education, Labour, Métis and Aboriginal studies, Environment, Gender Studies Yes PDF
Green Tea Press Books written by Allen B. Downey, a professor of computer science at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering. Many of these texts have become O’Reilly publications. Computer Science n/a  HTML, PDF

*Peer reviewed: Material has been peer-reviewed by experts in the field.

** Formats:

  • PDF: Stable, easy to download and print ; accessible via most computer programs.
  • HTML: Easy to view and print ; Compatible with accessibility programs (e.g. text to speech). Hard to download. 
  • EPUB: eBook format. Compatible with eReaders like Kobo, Apple and Android products. Easy to download and use if student has eBook reader. 
  • Mobi: Compatible with Kindle eReaders. Easy to download and use if student has eBook reader. 
  • iBooks: Compatible with Apple products (e.g. Ipad, Iphone etc.). Easy to download and use if student has eBook reader. 
  • Plain text: Text document.  Easy to download and print however there is no formatting. 

Additional resources (particularly those in mathematics, engineering, and physics) can be found on the library's MOOCs and Open Education guide. 

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