Tuition and fees are constant expenses that college students encounter, along with room and board, books, transportation, and personal expenses.
Edward Anson, a history professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, found a way to eliminate one financial responsibility for students taking his classes – free textbooks.
In his upper level course, all of the required texts were available online for no cost. The textbook required for students in his civilization courses was written by Anson and three other professors who no longer work for the university.
“I did this because I could,” said Anson. “Not only do I have the copyright, but I wrote this for the students here to use for my civilization class.”
Anson remembers that the original version of his book cost only $26. After checking the price at the bookstore a year ago, he found that the cost had gone up to $115.
“The publisher has the ability to increase prices. Because I don’t see any royalties, I didn’t know the price was going up,” said Anson.
Prior to making the decision to allow students to receive his textbook for free, Anson had established an account for a student to receive the book’s earnings.
“I decided that instead of helping one student, I would do something to benefit all of my students,” said Anson.
Many of his students were glad to receive the book for free electronically, while a few students thought it was in their best interest to purchase the book from the bookstore.
“Out of 65 students, maybe three or four bought the book,” said Anson. “This generation is used to computers and iPads and maybe those few are like me who still need the physical book.”
Anson and the history department hope to continue to find ways to make learning accessible and inexpensive for their future scholars.