Affordability and Accessibility

Accessibility and Affordability

When you author an eBook, you will want to consider two major questions: how important is accessibility, and how important is affordability? We’d guess that both are important to you, or you wouldn’t be interested in publishing an eBook with the Affordable Learning Exchange (ALX)! Here are some thoughts on these two areas:

Accessibility is an important factor to keep in mind when considering your choices. A print option for an eBook might be important to students who have limited or unreliable access to wifi off campus; in Ohio, roughly 8.9% of households do not have broadband internet service.[1] In addition, some students retain information better from reading print materials than online. Also consider how your eBook can work with screen readers for students with visual impairments or those who prefer to listen to books. Overall, providing access to your book across a variety of platforms (EPUB, MOBI, PDF, etc.) will allow students greater flexibility in reading the material.

Also, open textbooks are becoming more and more important in higher education. Once you have created your eBook, you will want to consider if you want to make it available to other faculty so that they can use or adapt it for their courses. By using a Creative Commons license for your book, you will always be cited as the original creator of the work. If you decide you want to do this, you will need to make your book available in a downloadable format, such as an EPUB.

Affordability is also an important consideration for your book. An open textbook removes all cost barriers to students, and improves the ability of students to participate in their courses immediately. For example, a digital book you make available for purchase might be much more affordable than a standard print textbook from the bookstore, but that price can still be a barrier to access. The chart below is an actual example from the ALX that demonstrates how significantly the number of downloads decreased when a book began to charge for access and was no longer made available for free.

Timeline of downloads for an Ohio State faculty-created book
Timeline of downloads for an Ohio State faculty-created book before and after a price was assigned

 


  1. Statistical Abstract of the United States, Table 1176.

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