February 18, 2014
I am writing to express my support for the provincial government’s Open Textbook program, and to encourage you to utilize these free, customizable textbooks in the teaching of your course(s).
The Open Textbook program was created in October 2012 and is administered by BC Campus. The program will create free, digitized textbooks for 40 of the most popular first- and second-year courses for B.C’s post-secondary students. This is especially pertinent to Simon Fraser University students due to the WQB requirements.
British Columbia is the first province in Canada to have an open textbook program. In a similar program run through the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, students saved $5.5 million between October 2011 and April 2013. Total student savings as of April 2013 were demonstrated to be more than triple the initial $1.8 million investment in the project.
Open textbooks are freely available online and are completely customizable. They can be utilized digitally or printed at a minimal cost. They are of equal if not superior quality to traditional textbooks. They are developed through traditional peer review, and vetted by experts. Best of all, professors can adapt existing open textbooks with their own research, journal articles or chapters from other books. They can even use the existing framework to create their own book without having to start from scratch. As with any textbook, the instructor is the final judge of whether an open textbook meets the needs of the course.
With the average cost of a first- or second-year textbook around $100-$150, this program has the potential to save students a great deal of money. With open textbooks, we have the option to print only the portions of the books we need, or we can use our open textbooks as e-books and pay nothing. As the cost of post-secondary education continues to rise, the open textbook program is a practical means to save students much needed money. With students paying between $900 and $1200 per academic year on textbooks that can add up to between $3,600 and $4,800 over a four-year degree.
As of February 12, 2014, 29 open, online textbooks in subjects ranging from math and chemistry to marketing, psychology, and business were reviewed by post-secondary faculty and are now freely available for download. 
For more information on the Open Textbook Program, visit: http://open.bccampus.ca
For a list of current open textbooks, visit: http://open.bccampus.ca/find-open-textbooks/
Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology, B.C. to lead Canada in offering students free, open textbooks. Victoria: October 16, 2012. http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2012AEIT0010-001581.htm
 Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology, Moving forward on free, open textbooks. Victoria: February 28, 2013. http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2013/02/moving-forward-on-free-open-textbooks.html
 Allen, Nicole. Affordable Textbooks For Washington Students: An Updated Cost Analysis of the Open Course Library. Boston: Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs), April 30, 2013. http://www.studentpirgs.org/sites/student/files/resources/PIRG OCL.pdf
 BC Campus, Open Ed: http://open.bccampus.ca/find-open-textbooks/