Writing an online, open textbook: is it worth it?

Tony Bates, Engineering Letters, Jul 05, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes
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The answer, unsurprisingly, was "yes" (though you have to read a fair way into the article to see this). The interesting bits, though, concern the function of PressBooks as a way to write an open textbook (the good: it was relatively easy to use; the bad: persistent hacking attacks, and exporting images into the various formats. Also, despite Tony Bates's credentials, professors still didn't want their students citing it because it wasn't peer reviewed (I have this issue as well, made all the more difficult because I don't write typical journal articles that peer reviewers like). But still, as Bates writes, "I was able to go from initial idea to final publication of the book in 15 months. I have had a publisher take that long from handover of the final draft to publishing. For a book of this kind, quick publishing is important otherwise it starts to look out of date, even if the main foundations do not change." Also worth noting: the cost of producing the book was $80 - $130K.

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