OpenStax College, a publisher from Rice University, has announced to expand its catalog of open access textbooks by 2015. The expansion will be funded by a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) and it will more than double the number of textbooks available.

With a plan to develop open access textbooks for five different subjects, OpenStax launched in 2012 with their introductory physics and sociology textbooks. Currently, their introductory physics and sociology textbooks have been downloaded more than 70,000 times and over 150 colleges, universities, and high schools have adopted the textbooks. This fall, two new biology textbooks and an introductory anatomy textbook will be made available. The recently announced expansion will add six more subjects to their collection, including chemistry, economics, precalculus, psychology, statistics, and U.S. history.

Since OpenStax hires the same content creators that major publisher’s employ, and its textbooks are peer-reviewed by hundreds of faculty reviewers, it costs more than $500,000 to develop each textbook. Grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the 20 Million Minds Foundation, the Maxfield Foundation, and most recently, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, allow OpenStax to offer these titles to students for free.

Ultimately, OpenStax plans to develop 25 textbooks for the nation’s most-enrolled college courses. It is estimated that if OpenStax captures 10 percent of textbook adoptions for each of its 25 planned textbooks, college students could save about $750 million over five years.

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