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Affordable & Free Textbooks, Open Education Resources: Textbook Affordability Subcommittee

Where to find open, free & affordable textbooks

Textbook Affordability Subcommittee mission and members

​The OER Task Force formed to provide textbooks for students as inexpensively as possible, and no more than $50 a book. For Spring 2021, contact Sarah Harmon,, for the Zoom meeting link. See the box to the right for the latest agenda and meeting date and time. Find resources for your courses here:

  • David Reed, Dean of Academic Services and Learning Technologies. Email: Phone: 650-306-3470 Office: 9-345
  • Sarah Harmon, Academic Senate OER Liaison. email: Office: 3-216
  • Nick DeMello, Distance Education Coordinator & chemistry Instructor. Email: Phone: 650-306-3291 Office: 18-109
  • Allison Hughes, Instructional Technologist. Email: Phone:650-306-3213 Office: 13-203 
  • Jai Kumar, Bookstore Manager. Email: Phone: 650-306-3199 Office: Bookstore
  • Diana Tedone-Goldstone. Librarian and Academic Senate President. Email: Phone: 650-306-3476 Office: 9-310
  • Valeria Estrada, Librarian. Email:
  • Cynthia McCarthy, adjunct faculty librarian. Email:

Students' attitudes towards textbooks survey results

In January and February 2019 a survey on students' attitudes towards textbook costs was sent out via email. Read the results from 261 respondents by downloading the file below.

Community College Consortium on OER

The Community College Consortium on Open Education Resources (CCCOER), established in 2007 in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, is "a joint effort by individual community colleges, regional and statewide consortia, the Open Courseware Consortium,  the American Association for Community Colleges, the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges, and many other educational partners to develop and use open educational resources, open textbooks, and open courseware to expand access to higher education and improve teaching and learning."


Faculty colleagues in the California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California reviewed over one hundred free and open electronic textbooks in art, business, education, humanities, math and statistics, science and technology, and social science. The California OER Council developed the evaluation rubric faculty reviewers used. Each textbook was reviewed by a member of community college faculty as well as CSU and UC faculty. Read the reviews on the Cool4Ed website. 

Presentations on OER and ZTC

Faculty Book Order Process

Book orders for summer, fall and spring are due on March 30th, April 15th, and October 15th, respectively. Bookstore will change due dates if release date of schedule is delayed.

Deans and division assistants are notified by the bookstore about the due dates. The Deans or their office staff notify the faculty members of the due dates. The Bookstore will open online adoptions for faculty to submit their adoptions. Faculty use the Online Book Order website to submit their orders. Faculty are given instructions online, with a link to the online ordering site on it. Faculty are given unique login information to ensure secure access. Faculty can also submit their adoptions via email or fax if they do not have access to the ordering site. Faculty members may also stop by the bookstore to discuss/submit adoptions for their classes.

The bookstore will send out reminder and follow up emails or call to faculty members who have not submitted their book orders and meet with them, if necessary. The Cañada Bookstore will advise faculty members as part of book order process, if lower cost alternatives are available for students; this includes open educational resources (OER) and alternative materials. Faculty members requiring content from multiple sources have option of creating a course packet, typically at a reduced price over purchasing multiple books. Bookstore will seek copyright permissions of content from publisher.

Acronyms and definitions of types of textbooks

The 5Rs of OER are the rights to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute.

  • OER: Open Education Resource
    • This is a type of textbook or other course material that is open source and meant to educational purposes. Frequently they are copyrighted via Creative Commons.
  • ZTC: Zero Textbook Cost
    • This is a label used for course that have a textbook or course material that is free to use.
  • IA: Inclusive Access
    • This is a program that usually bundles publisher services - including textbook and publisher site access - at a lower cost.
  • Low-cost
    • This is a label that describes course materials that are cheaper than traditional publisher alternatives. In California, the definition varies although it currently seems to mean anything that costs $50 or less.

Laws governing textbooks costs passed

Several recent laws have fueled the effort  to make textbooks more affordable.

California's three higher educational systems, the University of California, the California State University and California Community Colleges established the California Open Education Resource Council last year, as well as the California Digital Open Source Library. Two legislative bills established the goal of making higher education in California more affordable by providing faculty and students access to free and lower-cost instructional materials.

SB 1359 is a senate bill that requires colleges to mark those courses with materials that are low cost - below $50 a book - or zero cost. The bill also asks colleges to keep track of these designations and the courses they are tied to so that we can track how much students are spending on their course materials.

Textbook Affordability Subcommittee (TAS) meeting agendas

All are welcome and encouraged to attend and participate. Contact us for help finding resources for your courses here:

TAS newsletters