Open Textbook Summit Preview: Nicole Allen and Ethan Senack

Our two-day open textbook summit takes place on April 16 and 17 at Simon Fraser University’s Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver, B.C.

Open Textbook

While registration for this event is now closed, we will be sharing our insights and key observations from the summit online.

Two student advocates for textbook affordability, open access and open education

Nicole Allen, Director of Open Education for SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and Ethan Senack, federal Higher Education Associate for U.S. PIRG (United States Public Interest Research Group) will be the first presentation of the day on April 16.

Nicole and Ethan will share their research, best practices and direct experience on what it takes to bring together students and other key stakeholders/partners in the education community to advocate for more affordable and accessible higher education.

Notable Quotes

Over the last 25 years, textbook prices have more than quadrupled and continue to rise faster than inflation. The average text for an introductory-level course costs $175, and many spike into the $200, or even $300, range. – Nicole Allen

Open textbooks are free online, openly licensed books that are available in print for about $20-40. Unlike conventional e-books, which can be expensive and difficult to access, open textbooks are available in a range of affordable formats. – Nicole Allen

Last year, an OER pilot program at the Virginia State University business school resulted in 30-40 percent higher GPAs and more than $200,000 in student savings across nine core courses using open textbooks. – Nicole Allen

Students are spending $1,200 on average on books and supplies this year, according to the College Board.  That’s equivalent to 14% of tuition at a four-year, public college – and 39% of tuition at community college. – Ethan Senack

Every college student knows what it’s like to walk into the bookstore and see an outrageous $200 price tag on a required textbook. And every student knows what it’s like at the end of the semester, when the resale value is mere pennies on the dollar. – Ethan Senack

We can stop textbook ripoffs [sic] by increasing access to and availability of open textbooks. We can put pressure on the publishing industry by raising awareness about alternatives. And we can keep encouraging professors to assign open source textbooks to their classes as well as publishing their own open source material. – Ethan Senack

To learn more about Nicole Allen:

To learn more about Ethan Senack:


To join the conversation online, be sure to follow us on Twitter @BCcampus and use #OTSummit