SUNY's First Open Access Textbooks Now Available - For Free

October 23, 2013

Albany — The State University of New York today announced that the system's first two Open SUNY Textbooks have hit the virtual bookshelves and are now available to English education majors and Introduction to Anthropology students – for free. Because the books are “open,” they can be also accessed by anyone, world-wide.

Open SUNY Textbooks will be a critical component of Open SUNY, which will expand access to online courses offered within the 64-campus system, improving completion rates among students while also offering fully online degree opportunities. Open SUNY, which will be launched in early 2014, has the potential to be the world's largest, most comprehensive distance-learning environment.

“Open SUNY Textbooks will cut costs for our students while enhancing the quality of the textbooks used in some of SUNY's most popular electives and majors, while also allowing our faculty to reach a world-wide audience with their expert work,” said SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher. “This program an exciting first-look into what Open SUNY will accomplish.”

“Digital textbooks are the future of the academic publishing world,” said Carey Hatch, SUNY associate provost for academic technologies and information services. “The average college student nationally spends $1,200 on textbooks per year, and Open SUNY Textbooks position us to cut those costs for our students while expanding their opportunities and options for completing their degree, which is still the most effective way to save students money.”

The two books released this week are:

  • “Literature, the Humanities and Humanity,” written by SUNY Fredonia Distinguished Teaching Professor Ted Steinberg, a professor at the college for more than 40 years. The book focuses on the reading and teaching of literature and will be used most frequently by English education majors.
  • “Native Peoples of North America,” written by SUNY Potsdam Professor of Anthropology Dr. Susan Stebbins. The textbook is an introduction to the Native peoples of what are now the United States and Canada, focusing on presenting both historical and contemporary information from anthropological categories such as language, kinship, economic and political organization, religion and spirituality, and art.

“My profession has done a great job of taking literature away from people, of making it seem inaccessible. This is my answer to that,” said Dr. Steinberg. "As my career is winding down, I would like to give literature back, make people realize that they can read literature and enjoy it. I really believe in this project and the book.”

Funded by the SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant program, Open SUNY Textbooks is designed to encourage faculty to publish e-textbooks in partnership with their campus library. Participants in the program also include peer reviewers, student assessors, instructional designers, and consultation from the publisher, SUNY Press.

"Studies have shown that students, at times, are not purchasing required textbooks, not registering for classes, and even dropping courses because of textbook costs,” said Cyril Oberlander, director of the SUNY Geneseo Milne Library and principal investigator of Open SUNY Textbooks. “SUNY Libraries are working with faculty to reduce costs to students, promote authorship, invest in readership, and support teaching and learning."

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state. As of Fall 2018, more than 424,000 students were enrolled in a degree program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY served 1.4 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs in the 2017-18 academic year. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Its students and faculty make significant contributions to research and discovery, contributing to a $1.6 billion research portfolio. There are 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

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