Textbook Alternatives

How to Search for Open Texts

Open access texts are free for students to read online, usually also free to download, and sometimes also available in inexpensive print format. Often an open access text may have a Creative Commons license that would allow an instructor to alter the text for their course. These can be supplemented with additional OER resources.

There are multiple ways to look for open texts. Here are some strategies:

1. If you have a text that you want to find alternatives for, try the ISBN search below.

2. Try the Open Text Search. This Custom Google Search allows you to search across several large collections of OER texts.*

3. Search by keyword on OER Commons

4. & 5. Check out the resources listed for your subject area below and/or search the Pressbooks Directory.

6. Your subject librarian may be able to help you find open access texts beyond those found in these collections.

1. Search by ISBN for OER

2. Open Text Search of several OER text collections

This searches across several web sites that index or publish open access texts.
 You'll need to skip ads at the beginning (powered by free Google Custom search).

3. Search for Open Textbooks on OER Commons

4. Search the Pressbooks Directory

Note: In some cases, it may work better to go to step 5 first and then come back to this.
Pressbooks is a platform used to publish many open access books. Pressbooks includes open texts, but also many books that are not texts. You can search by keyword in Pressbooks, but might get a long list of results. The resources for specific subjects provided in step 5, might include a link to a curated sub-collection for your topic with Pressbooks or specific Pressbook texts.

5. Try ERSI

Business and Economics

Communication and Theater


Health & Medicine

Humanities & History

Languages & Linguistics

Mathematics & Statistics



Social Sciences

Social Work



Other Ways to Search for Open Access Books (These not included in Google Custom search)

*General Collections included in the Custom Search

Why use Open Textbook materials?

Peer reviewed studies have shown that:

"OER is an equity strategy for higher education: providing all students with access to course materials on the first day of class serves to level the academic playing field in course settings." [Colvard, 2018]

OER use increases enrollment intensity: "students in courses using OER enrolled in a significantly higher number of credits in the next semester." [Fischer et.al., 2015]


Double Click for full screen.

3-minute clip describes why a prof at University of Lethbridge (Alberta CA) uses open materials.

Tips on Using Open Texts

Using Digital Commons as a Publishing Platform

The EMU Library may be able to help you publish your open text on the Digital Commons platform. Digital Commons is automatically indexed in Google Scholar, which would allow academic users to discover your work. See the links below for examples of open texts published on Digital Commons at other universities. If interested, the EMU Library's contact for Digital Commons is Julia Nims jnims@emich.edu

Might you author an open text?

You may be able to join a collaborative project described on this guide.  If publishing an open text on your own, check with your librarian on possible ways the library can support your efforts.

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