BCcampus Open Education Print-on-Demand Guide: On-campus Printing: Faster and Cheaper

An excerpt from the Print-on-Demand Guide, by Lauri Aesoph

Print-on-demand options for open textbooks and other OER have been available as part of various collections and repositories for several years. Providing this same service at a student’s college or university offers two advantages over a service that is far away: it’s faster and cheaper. Martin Warkentin, Copyright Librarian at the University of the Fraser Valley, points out that savings include more than time and money.

“From a sustainability perspective,” says Martin, “it makes sense for printing to occur locally with minimal transportation requirements … (and to avoid) unnecessary generation of more packaging and fuel consumption.”

It’s faster because the purchaser doesn’t need to wait for an off-campus service to process the order, then print, bind, and ship the book. It has been observed, for example, that B.C. students and faculty ordering from the B.C. Open Textbook Collection store receive shipments sooner than customers in eastern Canada and across the border in the United States.

A campus-based print-on-demand service is cheaper because shipping is not part of the cost. Of course, the pricing structure for printed open textbooks and educational resources varies between institutions. A common topic among individuals interested in print on demand for OER is how to offer students an affordable printed alternative to traditional commercial textbooks.

Jason Wallace, Purchasing Manager for Print and Retail Services at North Island College, points out some of the problems observed on his campus among students seeking printed books.

“We have many students,” says Jason, “including remote students, with limited or no access to internet and electronic devices who find it unaffordable to photocopy materials through some place like Staples; others don’t even have access to a copy shop. Some people have trouble reading from screens. Some people don’t have a credit card to order a book online. So being able to go to their campus store and get what they need, often through funding — which they can’t use online — is not only convenient, but sometimes essential.”

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