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University press makes affordable textbooks a reality

Florida students will now have online access to textbooks free and can order bound printed textbooks for up to half the cost of traditional textbooks. Orange Grove Texts Plus (OGT+), a new imprint of the University Press of Florida, combines the strengths of a digital repository, an on–demand printer, and a traditional book publisher. This pilot project is designed to address the rising cost of textbooks by providing students and researchers with high–quality scholarship that is affordable, accessible, and adaptable to reader preferences. Orange Grove Texts Plus currently offers 120 textbooks and scholarly monographs free online, with more titles added on a continuing basis.

State University System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan has expressed support for this venture. “This entrepreneurial partnership is testing new waters in book publishing to offer flexibility for professors and less expensive textbooks for students. I’m proud that this innovation is coming out of Florida’s higher-education community, and I’m excited about the future possibilities this experiment could bring to how we manage textbook costs.”

Orange Grove Texts Plus delivers access to a wide range of textbooks in a choice of electronic or bound-book formats. These books are priced 40-50% less than similar textbooks purchased at retail outlets, including online discounters. For example, students anywhere can read online, download, and print some or all of the pages from Elementary Calculus by H. Jerome Keisler without charge on their own printers.

Or they can use the site’s one-click ordering to have a copy of this 992-page book printed, bound, and shipped directly to their home for $47.50 (plus shipping and handling). Even at the deepest discount, comparable textbooks retail for $100-$160. With OGT+, students don’t have to wait in long lines at the campus bookstore. Other books available through Orange Grove Texts Plus range in price from $29.50 to $54.50.

Though people are increasingly reading large amounts of text on-screen, not every student or researcher wants to read exclusively online. A recent survey found that the comfort level of students reading on a computer screen varied greatly.: 33% of students questioned were comfortable reading on-screen; 22% were uncomfortable; and 45% were in the middle. However, 75% said they would prefer a printed textbook to a digital textbook, and 60% said they would buy a low-cost print copy even if a digital book were free. Although other open-access repositories offer free online versions, Orange Grove Texts Plus is among the first to offer readers the option of a low-cost bound version in addition to unlimited free online access.

Dr. Willis Holcombe, Chancellor of the Division of Florida Colleges, heralded Orange Grove Texts Plus as “a much-needed resource which should have a significant and growing impact on the cost of textbooks and, in turn, overall higher education affordability for students in Florida.”

Recent statewide initiatives address textbook affordability at Florida’s 67 public and private colleges, universities, and community colleges. The Florida Distance Learning Consortium established The Orange Grove to serve as a repository of free instructional resources, including multimedia files. The Orange Grove’s role in this partnership is to house multimedia files and open access materials, providing the infrastructure to distribute access to scholarly resources.

This repository offers Florida educators the flexibility to create and consume information presented in text, audio, video, or animation. Since its inception, The Orange Grove has gathered more than 1200 digital resources. Users have access to more than 80,000 items in other collections and repositories through federated searching. Thanks to this repository, open access textbooks are easily integrated into the traditional classroom or distance learning setting because these materials can be easily imported into the learning management system used by professors in Florida.

For more information on Orange Grove Texts Plus, including resources on open-access publishing, textbook affordability in Florida, or the University Press of Florida, please contact Stephanie Williams (352) 392-1351, ext. 243, .

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Posted by Andrea Freygang on Sep 26 2009. Filed under Broward County, Business, Fort Lauderdale, Local news, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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