One problem open textbooks (and instructors adopting open textbooks) face is how to make the texts available to their students. Of course, it’s easy to distribute electronic OERs. But if you want to provide your students a nice, printed version they can take to the coffee shop, you’re in a bind. First, you have to have it printed. This is a bit of work, but with online print-on-demand services like lulu.com it’s possible. But students would have to order the text themselves, and tax and shipping can almost double the (low) cost of a print-on-demand paperback, especially if you want it fast.
So big props to our campus bookstore, especially its manager Brent Beatty, who agreed to order 30 copies for my class and sell them at cost. Brent has been a member of UCalgary’s OER Working Group, so he’s attuned to the issues and challenges of open textbooks. All I had to do was send him the lulu.com order link; with volume discount, low volume shipping cost, and lulu.com’s frequent (constant?) promotional discount (25%) the shelf price is just a few cents above the list price on lulu (C$11).
Now I just hope enough students buy it so they’re not making a loss!