Photograph of a diverse group of students.

Open SUNY Textbooks

Open SUNY textbooks logo

Open SUNY Textbooks is an open access textbook publishing initiative established by State University of New York libraries and supported by SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grants. This pilot initiative publishes high-quality, cost-effective course resources by engaging faculty as authors and peer-reviewers, and libraries as publishing service and infrastructure.

Currently there are 7 Open SUNY Textbooks in publication and 15 more in process. In the Spring 2014 semester, 185 students saved $15,464 using 2 Open SUNY textbooks.

What Are Open Textbooks?

Open textbooks are typically authored by faculty and published on the web with the support of universities or new commercial companies. This new business model enables free online access to textbooks.

Open textbooks are usually governed by Creative Commons licenses that enable users to download, customize or print the textbook without expressed written consent of the author. In contrast, new commercial companies provide free access to the textbook content online, while charging lower prices for print products and supplemental services.

The EDUCAUSE LEARNING INITIATIVE has provided a nice overview of the 7 Things You Should Know About Open Textbook Publishing (pdf) by Judy Baker and Jacky Hood from Foothill College (California Community College)

How Can I Find Open Textbooks? Easy!

MERLOT's collection has over 2,500 Open Textbooks. Click on a link to your subject area and you’ll get a hit list of Open Textbooks in different sub-disciplines. MERLOT’s indexing tools enable easy browsing and searching the entire collection of open textbooks.


The publishing industry in general is going through upheaval relative to the sustainability of the print publishing model in this new day of digital information access. As a result, the costs for what has been the standard for college course materials – the printed textbook – has become a major source of expense for students, and for some, a financial barrier to college completion. According to a study of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the annual average amount spent by college students on textbooks is 26% of the cost of tuition at a public, four-year university. The College Board estimates the annual cost of textbooks and supplies for 2011-12 at over $1000 per student. Open textbooks are one part of the solution to managing the costs of learning materials for students.

Dr. Lisa McDonnell

Dr. Lisa McDonnell

Listen to a sociology faculty explain why she’s using an Open Textbook. Dr. Lisa McDonnell of St. Petersburg College persuasively discusses the needs of her students and how an open textbook fulfilled those needs by giving her control of textbook content.

Open Textbook Adoption (video, ~9 min. created by Paul Marks) *License: Creative Commons, Attribution, Share-Alike.

Erik Christensen

Erik Christensen

Listen to a Physics faculty explain why he’s using an Open Textbook. A advocate and trainer, Professor Christensen discusses the benefits to himself and his students of adopting an open physics textbook. The customization of the open textbook with his own teaching materials, he believes, enabled him to make physics "more fun and interesting" for his students, with some choosing to major in physics at the universities. Also, costs to students dropped from $178.00 to $13.00.

Open Textbook Testimonial (Video on YouTube, ~8 min. created and narrated by physics Professor Erik Christensen of South Florida Community College) *License: Creative Commons, Attribution, Share-Alike.

Find Open Textbooks Related to a Book

Enter the ISBN of a book below to find related FREE open textbooks.

Find Free Textbooks Related to a Topic

Enter key words below to find related FREE textbooks.

Share Open Textbooks You're Using or Authored

Are you using Open Textbooks you found on the web in teaching your students? Have you posted a free Open Textbook that’s available for others to use? We invite you to catalog the Open Textbook you use or authored in MERLOT. Your colleagues and students around the world will thank you!


First: Become a member of MERLOT (It will take about 2 minutes and it’s FREE).

Second: Fill out the online form to Contribute a Material. (It will take about 4 minutes the first time and step-by-step instructions for contributing materials to MERLOT are available).