The Twenty Million Minds Foundation (20MM) has spent about $1.5-million in developing open access textbooks written by high-profile scholars, but they are learning that professors are still hesitant to use these textbooks in their courses. The largest problem is that few professors have heard of 20MM or OpenStax College, a Rice University service that hosts free textbooks produced by the foundation.
In order to reach a wider audience, 20MM decided to contact online retailers and find a partner to sell their previously free textbooks for a small fee. They spoke with several retailers, such as CourseSmart and AcademicPub, but they ultimately decided to work with Chegg. Dean Florez, 20MM’s president, explained that Chegg is already associated with low-cost options and that the textbooks need to be seen “side by side with a site professors trust” to encourage adoptions.
The cost of the 20MM textbooks will cost a few dollars per textbook, with Mr. Florez reassuring that the cost of the textbooks will be less than the sales tax on the books they are buying from publishers. In addition, none of that money will go back to 20MM. Instead, it will support Chegg’s online reader software which adds extra features to the original content, and some will support OpenStax College. Mr. Florez added that 20MM could have built its own software platform, but they decided that it would be in the best interest of open-source publishers by being in the same stores as other books already being used in classrooms.
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