The cost of proprietary textbooks in the United states has risen by 1041 percent since 1977 (Popken 2015[1]). This has a negative impact on learning, for example, a recent survey in Florida reports that two-thirds of the students did not purchase the required textbook (Florida Virtual Campus 2016[2]).

In this section we explore contemporary responses to the challenge including open textbooks, textbook rentals and access codes to learning platforms provided by commercial publishers.


Mini challenge summary

Summary: Comparing terms of service for open textbooks, textbook rentals and commercial learning platform access codes.
30 – 40 minutes.

Start here



The purpose of this mini challenge is to investigate and compare terms of service for alternate solutions to the problem of rising textbook costs.


Annotation - Research on textbook cost and open textbooks

Purpose: The purpose of this annotation exercise is to gain insight into the challenges of rising textbook costs and to share insights from your own experience.

Read the following research article and add or reply to annotations using sharing personal insights and experiences. Remember to tag your posts using the course code: LiDA103:

Jhangiani, R. S., & Jhangiani, S. (2017). Investigating the Perceptions, Use, and Impact of Open Textbooks: A survey of Post-Secondary Students in British Columbia. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(4).



Terms of service comparison

  1. Find an open textbook in your own field of interest.
    • Determine the terms of service for use (Tip: the copyright license will provide information on the usage permissions).
    • Estimate the direct cost for using the text.
  2. Find a commercial alternative which you can rent and/or purchase an access code for an online learning platform.
    • Locate the terms of service (you may need to conduct a google search using the product name and including “terms of service” in the search.)
    • Determine the price for rental or access (how does this compare to the standard textbook price?)
  3. Compile a simple comparison table, for example:
Dimension Open textbook e-Book rental
Duration of access

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  • I was surprised by …
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  1. Popken, B. (2015, August 6). College Textbook Prices Have Risen 1,041 Percent Since 1977. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  2. Florida Virtual Campus. (2016). 2016 student textbook and course materials survey. Retrieved July 5, 2017.