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Save Money with Free and Low-Cost Textbooks

CCBC is steadfastly committed to providing the most valuable college education available. As commercial textbook prices continue to rise, your CCBC professors are working hard to provide students with free and low-cost textbooks.

These free and low-cost textbooks help lower the cost of attending college, by providing high-quality alternative educational materials, and allowing you to save money on expensive textbooks. So far CCBC has saved students over $1,000,000 in classes like Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Mobile Applications and Development, Introduction to Sociology, Behavioral Health Counseling, and many more! Learn more about free and low-cost textbooks below.

Free textbooks

Free textbooks are created using Open Educational Resources (OER) which is content covered by an open license, instead of traditional copyright. Open Educational Resources are most often completely reusable, editable, and best of all, free to anyone, anywhere!

Usually we think of OER as being full textbooks, but really OER can be used for all sorts of different course materials, like individual readings or course modules, quiz questions and test banks, simulations, instructional videos, and more. If the course materials you are using are free to anyone, anywhere, you are most likely using an OER in your class. These textbooks or other course materials are developed by professors to be fully customizable to your class, as well as the CCBC community. As a result, not only do OER and free textbooks save you money, but they also provide you with a richer educational experience.

Another way your professor might use free textbooks or course materials is through the CCBC library. Your professor might link to eBooks, articles, videos, or reading lists to provide you with free course materials. The biggest difference between OER and library materials is that while OER are free to anyone, anywhere, library materials are only free to CCBC students.

Courses using free textbooks:

Course Open Educational Resources
CSIT 166 - Mobile App Development Online textbook
LGST 207 - Torts Online textbook
MATH 082 - Introductory Algebra with Statistics Online textbook
MATH 083 - Intermediate Algebra Online textbook

Low-cost textbooks

Low-cost textbooks and course materials are any resources that cost $40 or less. Low-cost textbooks are usually regular, commercial textbooks that cost less than $40, but they can also be OER textbooks that come with a $40 or less access code or special learning platform. In these special cases, the OER textbook is free, but the special learning platform costs between $10-$40. Because of the extra cost associated with these platforms, we consider these types of OER to be low-cost instead of free. 

An example of low-cost textbooks is all online sections of Investigating the Living World (BIOL 108) use a free OER textbook and $25 learning platform. Therefore, we consider this to be a low-cost (under $40) textbook course.

Low-cost textbooks may also fall under the Barnes & Noble First Day Program. The First Day program automatically embeds your textbook within your Blackboard course. The cost for first day books is included in your course fees for the class. You can choose to opt-out of this program when you review your registration. Only some first day books are considered low-cost (under $40) though. All sections of Introduction to Sociology (SOCL 101) use a First Day textbook that costs less than $40.

Courses using Low-Cost Textbooks:

Finding Free and Low-Cost Textbooks

Right now, CCBC is working on the best way to make free and low-cost textbooks searchable and clearly labeled in the course catalog. Check the notes section in the course description to see if it uses a free or low-cost textbook.

Most free and low-cost textbooks are only available online, so you must have access to the internet to read and use your textbook.

Find low-cost textbooks through Barnes & Noble bookstore »

OER for Faculty

OER can be more than just a textbook. Your intro to OER can be as simple as creating an openly-licensed assignment or adopting a small set of readings from an OER. There are three main pathways to using OER: adoption, adaption, and creation. Each of these requires a varying level of commitment and time; with adoption requiring the least and creation the most. The CCBC Library can help you by locating existing OER ready for adoption or adaption and guide you through the nuances of openly-licensed content and Creative Commons licenses.

Listen to some of our OER faculty champions

video thumbnail CCBC Faculty have been hard at work adopting, adapting, and creating OER. Faculty members from various disciplines like Psychology, Chemistry, English, and Math have shared their thoughts on why OER is so important for CCBC students.


View the OER Library Guide for more information.