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.


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.