Introducing the institution as e-textbook publisher project

In this first blog post Jisc Collections introduces the ‘Institution as E-textbook Publisher’ project.

Since April 2014, Jisc Collections has been 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 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.


Four project teams – from the Universities of Liverpool, Nottingham, Highlands & Islands with Edinburgh Napier University, and University College London – 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 e-textbooks

Each project team has been working on the development of two e-textbooks (read more). These cover a range of subjects from public archaeology, plastic surgery and ethics to financial management, corporate responsibility and research practice:

▪ University of Liverpool: 1. Using Primary Sources; 2. Essentials of Financial Management
▪ University of Nottingham: 1. Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability in Practice; 2. Applied Ethics
▪ University of the Highlands and Islands & Edinburgh Napier University: 1. How to Write a Research Dissertation; 2. Undertaking Your Research Project
▪ University College London: 1. Reconstructive & Plastic Surgery; 2. Public Archaeology

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 (read more). They have also 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 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.

A toolkit will be produced in 2017-18 to 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.

We will produce a series of blog posts on a number of key themes and invite each project to provide regular updates. In the meantime, you can also read the two articles published on Insights which give more detail on the processes involving the development of these e-textbooks (article 1) (article 2).

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