Hard-Back OpenStax Books Come to Canada

Update: March 29, 2022

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Vretta has announced that it can no longer act as the Canadian distributor for OpenStax hardcover textbooks. BCcampus and the Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative, advisors for this service, thank Vretta for making this opportunity available.

Post by Lauri Aesoph, Manager, Open Education

Update: September 27, 2021

Last spring BCcampus, in partnership with Vretta and the Manitoba Open Education Initiative, surveyed Canadian post-secondary institutions about how printed open textbooks fit into their classrooms and what they knew about the distribution of OpenStax’s hardbound books in Canada. Answers were provided using a narrative format.

View the results of the survey here.

Update: February 23, 2021

BCcampus, in partnership with Vretta and the Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative invites post-secondary faculty, librarians, bookstore staff and students from across Canada to participate in a survey about the distribution of OpenStax’s hardbound books in Canada, and printed open textbooks in general. 

Feel free to share the Canadian Distribution of OpenStax hardcover textbooks survey link with your colleagues. This survey will remain open until April 30, 2021.

All survey responses are anonymous. Final results will be shared out in an aggregated and anonymized format later this year.

Update: October 27, 2020

Against the backdrop of the pandemic and all the challenges stemming from it, BCcampus and Campus Manitoba continue to meet regularly with Vretta regarding their role as Canada’s distributor of hardback OpenStax textbooks.

Carley McDougall, Acting Executive Director for Campus Manitoba, says that since April she and her team have noticed an increased interest in open educational resources, such as OpenStax textbooks. However, the Manitoba group is also hearing about students struggling with broadband issues and basic access to the resources required for post-secondary learning. “Because of this we are seeing the institutions working to provide alternative ways to access education including the increase in use in open educational resources, and resources that don’t require internet access or even computers such as printed books.”

At the beginning of this year, BCcampus decided to give each faculty member who applied to review an open textbook from the B.C. Open Textbook Collection a free printed copy of the book they would be evaluating. This new policy was in response to requests from some reviewers who said they preferred leafing through a physical book rather than, or in addition to, reading it online. For reviewers of OpenStax textbooks, a copy is ordered from Vretta.

Account Manager, Shoeb Mozammel, acknowledges that even though COVID-19 threw “a curveball” at their day-to-day operations, Vretta continues to deliver high quality and affordable OpenStax print textbooks to institutions and students across the country. After the initial drop in textbook orders, Vretta was surprised (and pleased) to see a jolt in demand over the last several months as more and more faculty turn to OER for their respective classes. In turn, students have been ordering print versions to complement the online versions of OpenStax textbooks. Vretta has been working diligently behind the scenes during the past several months, says Shoeb, to make sure that “bookstores, faculty, and students can still order these books the same way as they have been doing all along.” 

“Vretta was very easy to place our order and supply the OpenStax print versions our students preferred.”  

-Yohanna Quackenbush, Campus Store Coordinator, College of the Rockies Bookstore

Update: April 28, 2020

In March, Campus Manitoba and Open Ed Manitoba joined regular discussions with Vretta and BCcampus Open Education regarding the OpenStax textbook distribution project. Dylan Woodcock, virtual help desk associate at Campus Manitoba, says, “The Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative is pleased to be involved in monthly consultations with BCcampus and Vretta. It allows us a chance to discuss the growing momentum of open education within and beyond our province and serves as an excellent learning opportunity and opening to future collaboration.” 

During the first quarter of 2020, leading up to Manitoba’s involvement, interest in and sales of OpenStax textbooks were growing in B.C. and across Canada. However, once COVID-19 disrupted the status quo, that upward climb stalled. Regardless, Vretta has committed to prioritizing the needs of students and instructors by ensuring that OpenStax hardcover textbooks are still readily available for purchase across Canada.

Update: January 14, 2020

Two more options are now available for anyone in Canada wishing to buy a hard-back copy of an OpenStax open textbook. In addition to the Vretta order form page, these books are now available through Amazon Canada either by going directly to Amazon.ca (look for Vretta as the distributor) or by visiting individual OpenStax books posted in the B.C. Open Textbook Collection. These hard-cover books are available for 13 of the 33 OpenStax textbooks posted in the B.C. collection.   Since October, faculty and post-secondary bookstores in British Columbia and across Canada have purchased 20% of Vretta’s initial OpenStax inventory. A refund policy has also been posted to the Vretta ordering page.  

“Vretta is proud to deliver OpenStax hardcover textbooks across Canada. The initial response has been nothing short of great and it is very encouraging to know that there is a real demand for these resources. As demand continues to grow, we will strive to ensure that we meet the needs of students and institutions by continuing to restock our shelves with various titles.” says Shoeb Mozammel, Account Manager for Vretta.  

Original: October 8, 2019

Thanks to a partnership between Vretta, a Toronto-based education technology company, and OpenStax, a Rice University-based nonprofit that publishes openly licensed college textbooks, print copies of OpenStax books will now officially be distributed in Canada. Canadian instructors and students who use OpenStax textbooks–and the bookstores that stock them–can now order these high-quality, full-colour textbooks more easily, faster, and for less money through Vretta’s order form page. Prices (in Canadian dollars) are posted on the page, and bookstores – and others – that order 10 textbooks or more receive a 20% discount.

Books on a shelf
Photo credit: Jemel Agulto, OpenStax

Like other open textbooks, OpenStax books are still free online through the B.C. Open Textbook Collection or directly from the OpenStax catalogue.

BCcampus and Vretta continue to meet monthly to oversee this endeavour. Feedback and questions are welcome.

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