Jisc Collections is funding four project teams from UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to investigate the viability of publishing their own e-textbooks. The overall objective of the ‘The Institution as E-textbook Publisher’ project is to assess whether the textbooks created assist in the aims of providing:

  • more affordable higher education costs for students;
  • better value for money than commercial alternatives;
  • an improved, more sustainable information environment for all.


The project teams received funding for a period of four years (April 2014 – September 2018) to:

  • create two e-textbooks each;
  • apply business, licensing and distribution models; and
  • report back on the impact, value and viability of the models chosen.

The project teams consists of the:

  • University of Liverpool
  • the University of Nottingham
  • the University of the Highlands & Islands with Edinburgh Napier University
  • University College London.

The e-textbooks

Each project team has been working on the development of two e-textbooks. These cover a range of subjects from public archaeology, plastic surgery and ethics to financial management, corporate responsibility and research practice. The projects have been experimenting with different business and licensing arrangements to find an optimal model, which can then be applied to future e-textbook publishing within their institutions and beyond.


E-textbook Publication date URL Author(s) Description
University of Liverpool Essentials of Financial Management Mar-18  goo.gl/cgJVz5 Dr Jason Laws Fundamental concepts in finance with a focus on the key decisions facing financial managers.
Using Primary Sources Jan-17 goo.gl/iciJTU Dr Jon Hogg et al. Practical advice on the variety of ways to analyse and incorporate primary source materials into coursework.
University of Nottingham Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability in Practice Apr-16 goo.gl/MzjekC Paul Caulfield et al.
Applied Ethics Oct-15 goo.gl/MUsuKg Prof Christopher Woodard et al. Explores what makes our actions and beliefs right or wrong by exploring topics such as vegetarianism, freedom of speech, and abortion.
University of the Highlands and Islands & Edinburgh Napier University How to Write a Research Dissertation Sep-15 goo.gl/gdFHnM Frank Rennie et al. Short, practical guide with tips and suggested activities relating to the key stages of the dissertation-writing process.
Undertaking Your Research Project Jul-16 goo.gl/r9bo2O Keith Smyth et al. For students undertaking a research project this book offers a useful roadmap for the important issues you will have to consider during the research process.
University College London Reconstructive & Plastic Surgery Jun-16 goo.gl/V4Vvvb Dr Deepak Kalaskar, Peter Butler and Shadi Ghali Comprehensive overview of the vast topic of reconstructive plastic surgery and its various subspecialties for introductory plastic surgery and surgical science courses.
Public Archaeology Nov-16 goo.gl/r8NNLs Dr Gabriel Moshenska Overview of the key concepts in public archaeology, research field that examines the relationship between archaeology and the public, in both theoretical and practical terms.

The project teams have applied different business and licensing models, used distinct technologies/software, and utilized various distribution channels and marketing strategies based on what they considered to be more appropriate depending on the advantages of the different resources as well as on the subject areas of their e-textbooks and target audiences.


Outputs and knowledge transfer

The process involving the development of the e-textbooks is extensively documented in Jisc Collections website so that other HEIs can learn from their experiences, follow the recommendations made by the project teams, and replicate some of the steps they followed.

The project website is a key source of information as are some of the outputs already produced by the project teams (article 1) (article 2).

Another key resource that will be produced in 2017-18 is a toolkit that will detail the various steps of the e-textbook development and dissemination process (planning, production, business models, licensing, technology/software, distribution, and marketing) as well as the financial costs involved in producing e-texbooks, and mechanisms to evaluate the effectiveness of the e-textbooks and their uptake by students.

Throughout the remainder of the project we will use this blog to update the sector on further developments within the project. We will produce a series of blog posts on a number of key themes and invite each project to provide regular updates.