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Digital Biology Textbook to Cost CSU Students Just $49

Interactive text to be offered at pilot campuses at a significant savings from comparable printed textbooks

(May 24, 2011) –Students taking biology at three California State University campuses will be able to purchase a high quality, interactive, multimedia and digital text with unlimited printing rights and no expiration date for just $49.

As part of a three-year partnership with Nature Publishing Group (NPG), publisher of the world’s leading scientific journal Nature, CSU faculty guided and advised the development of NPG’s Principles of Biology – the first in a series of interactive "born digital" textbooks. The text will be incorporated into courses for students at the Los Angeles, Northridge and Chico campuses starting in the 2011/2012 academic year.

"Students still often pay more than $800 per year on textbooks, representing a serious barrier to learning when students go without course materials because they can’t afford them," said Gerry Hanley, senior director of CSU Academic Technology Services and executive director of the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching. "Making course materials more affordable is a major concern of the CSU, and providing better tailored and more interactive content at the same time enhances student access to an excellent CSU education."

Get the Full Press Release from The California State University (PDF)



California State University and Nature Publishing Group Partner to Support NPG’s Development of Affordable Interactive Textbooks in Biology

California State University (CSU) and Nature Publishing Group (NPG), publisher of the world’s leading scientific journal Nature, today announced a three-year partnership to support design and development by NPG of an innovative series of affordable, high quality interactive textbooks in college-level science. The “born digital” textbooks will be used initially at CSU campuses but will be available to other universities from September 2011.

The first interactive textbook in the program, Principles of Biology, will be used as the primary learning solution for the introductory biology course at CSU’s Los Angeles, Northridge, and Chico campuses for the 2011/2012 academic year. Principles of Biology is being developed by a team of scientists and instructors led by NPG’s editors, with guidance from a team of faculty advisors at the three CSU campuses. As a “born digital” product, Principles of Biology will be accessible to students and instructors via web browsers on desktops, laptops, tablet computers and smartphones, and will retail at $49 per student. Students will have the rights to self-print a color copy of the textbook. Principles of Biology uses more than 175 interactive lessons and continual assessment to help students master basic concepts, and draws on Nature’s expertise and extensive archive of research papers to cultivate mature scientific skills, including data analysis and critical thinking. Further titles in life and physical sciences will be launched by NPG, with consulting and adoption by CSU faculty, over a three-year period.

Gerry Hanley, Senior Director for Academic Technology Services at the CSU, Office of the Chancellor, said: “Our partnership with NPG is intended not just to develop a new kind of textbook, but to transform the traditional relationship between universities and textbook publishers. The CSU and NPG have interacted from the outset, not as producer and consumer, but as partners jointly designing a publishing model that satisfies the long-term needs of both kinds of organizations. The resulting set of product features, pricing, rights and permissions, and distribution options is an ideal foundation for academic institutions moving forward and a considerable advance over traditional models. We are delighted that a publisher of NPG’s exceptional quality and reputation reached out to us to work on this significant project. Our faculty are excited to begin using NPG’s high quality resources with their students this fall.”

Get the Full Press Release from Nature Publishing Group (PDF)

How can you adopt the NATURE Principles of Biology digital textbook?

If you’re from a CSU campus and want to join the CSU-NPG project, please contact:

If you’re from any other higher ed campus and are interested in adopting the Nature interactive text, please contact:

Principles of Biology: Frequently Asked Questions

Who wrote Principles of Biology?

Nature Publishing Group’s editorial team spearheaded the authoring effort, supported by a team of more than 50 undergraduate instructors, artists, researchers, and journalists, and more than 200 reviewers drawn from undergraduate teaching and research institutions.

What is California State University’s role in Principles of Biology?

CSU has been a strategic partner throughout development of Principles of Biology, by committing several kinds of contributions to our project. First, CSU dedicated a team of 5 experienced biology instructors to work closely with us for a period of 9 months, acting as first reviewers of all materials and a decision-making team for critical editorial issues such as the best balance of interactives, assessments, and traditional learning content. Second, CSU committed to adopt Principles of Biology upon launch at 3 campuses. Third, CSU’s Chancellors Office has collaborated with our team over the past four months to design a business model for Principles of Biology that satisfies universities’ key structural needs – learning effectiveness, affordability, and accessibility – while also satisfying NPG’s need as a publisher to build a sustainable model for investing in and maintaining high quality interactive textbooks. Principles of Biology has been designed by the 40+ person editorial team as an ideal resource for effective use in introductory biology programs at any university.

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