First look to Open Textbooks Publishers
To get this project started, the first task is to understand how are open textbooks and research the options that we can work with. We were asked to analyze and give our first thoughts about some existing publishers and platforms. I have consulted around 15 publishers and I would like to describe the main features that captured my attention.
Generally, all of the publishers that I have visited present similar characteristics and it is very hard to spot differences to compare them. Usually, they offer the open book content in three main formats: readable (englobes HTML, PDF, Kindle, etc), editable (XML and HTML) and hard copy (printed PDF or in physical book form). Depending on the book, the options could be reduced. I would like for our book to have as many formats as possible to make it fully accessible to every user.
About the design and the presentation of the content, they again use the same online format, always starting from the index making it easier to navigate. It seems like most books are created thinking about the online format so they use images, additional PDFs, audios and YouTube videos. As a result, the non-online versions (PDF and hard copies) have this content indicated as ‘further content’ (website links). However, they do not transcribe them or make them accessible to the non-online reader. I would like to have this in consideration to give the same or closest experience to any type of consumer, and even more knowing that we are aiming to use many videos and audios as, before anything else, this is a Musical Theory book. But then again, specific questions come to my mind thinking about accessibility issues, for example: Would a bling user be able to understand without the visuals of the videos? Is there anything that can I add/change to compensate for this?
To conclude this broad view of the possible open textbook’s options, I would like to highlight two publishers that seem to meet the criteria described above:
- OpenStax: various formats, even possible to download books to a phone app. Clear display. It gives the user the possibility to highlight and take notes into the HTML version. Personally, I like the style of the online version.
- BCcampus: all three main formats of distribution. Very simple display. It has guides to help the user adapt the content depending on the purpose (teaching, divulgation…). All books must meet the accessibility criteria before being published.