Can I help you in any way? OER

Can I help you in any way? OER“Hello, thank you for visiting. Can I help you in any way?” If you’ve browsed our TAA website, you’ve likely seen those words in the chat box that appears on the screen. We’re often asked by visitors if we’re “real”. Then those who realize that we are, and that we are there to help, ask questions that you may have as well.

In this series of “Can I help you in any way?” posts, we’ll highlight some of the questions people have asked through the TAA Live Chat feature of our site and the responses we have for those questions. In this post, we’re focused on a question about publishing options in either Open Textbook format or through self-publishing methods.

Recently a visitor entered the live chat starting the conversation as follows:

“I am working with a group of educators to publish a textbook on local history.  We are not looking to market the book, but will sell it directly to the school district with no mark up or profit.  Any suggestions on the best of the publishing companies to use?”

In response, I suggested exploring open textbook options if they are not wanting to make a profit, advising that OpenStax or Top Hat may be good places to start the process.

Being unfamiliar with open textbook publishing, the visitor asked, “What is that?” For others unfamiliar with this publishing option, I share my response, “Open Educational Resources or OER is a newer publishing model that provides educational resources in an openly licensed format, often for free or low cost in comparison to traditional publishing choices”.

The next concern from this visitor was whether open textbooks allow for print editions, or if they are limited to e-books. Writing for a second-grade audience, they “definitely want print books for the kids”. In response, I shared, “While many Open resources are electronic format, that is not a requirement. And most publishers of open content offer print options.”

The visitor then asked about “more traditional self-publishing options”, specifically Lulu. I shared that “Lulu is a common option for self-publishing. Amazon’s CreateSpace is another.”

I added that “Both self-publishing and open publishing require more marketing efforts by the author than traditional publishing options, but help to reduce costs as a result.”

The visitor responded stating, “Since we don’t need marketing, that works for us.  What we really need is help laying out the book and getting it in a format that is ready for print.  We have all the text and illustrations and photographs ready to go, but are not technologically savvy enough to lay out the book ourselves. And we want the district to be able to purchase the books right from the publisher.”

I shared that “Lulu and Amazon offer tools to help with that process. You may also want to explore https://www.thebookdesigner.com which provides a number of resources from the design and self-publishing perspective.”

If you’re curious about open textbook publishing as well, you may find our recent TAA blog article, “4 Questions authors are asking about open textbooks”, helpful as well.

Can we help you in other ways? Check out the previous series posts on learning objectivesessay writingcourses and workshopspublishing strategiessoftware tools for writersquoting sources, and revisions and editing.


Eric Schmieder

Eric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.