A UW Madison professor has tackled the issue of costly textbooks head-on. Dr. Dr. Timothy Paustian is a UW professor who faced a dilemma — more and more students who could not afford textbooks costing hundreds of dollars. Paustian’s solution was to write his own. “I was already writing pages for my students, explaining stuff and filling in the gaps sometimes,” said Paustian. “I did all the copy editing, I did all the copyrights for all the figures. I made all the other figures that I needed, and I published it on the web.” His students have been using the text for nearly a decade. “The students thought it was great. There were some issues with it. It needed more editing, and over the years it’s gotten better and better. But they’ve been very happy with it.”
Paustian figures even more such texts will be widely used in the next three to five years. “The publishing industry is in chaos, because their business model doesn’t work anymore,” he said. “They’re just clinging to that book, and they’re not changing it. They keep raising prices because they’ve got to raise money, but they’re just pricing themselves out of the market.” He said the key to making so-called ‘open textbooks’ more widely available will be finding a business model that does work, and convincing more professors to use them.