Posted on October 20, 2009 · Posted in OpenPress

To help teachers get the most out of the the full library of Siyavula, Connexions, Free High School Science Texts (FHSST) and many other open textbooks, we want to see these resources printed as cost effectively as possible while still ensuring high print quality. We believe that by aggregating print orders we can do just that. We will facilitate this through an online print aggregation service that we are calling OpenPress.

Our vision for OpenPress is to provide a web-service for the aggregation of print orders, offering users the benefit of economies of scale achieved through collaborative purchasing. Our primary aim will be the dissemination of open educational resources (OERs). A cost-effective printing solution will add significant momentum to the adoption of OERs as well as incentivise the creation or release of further OERs and allow real classroom use which is a necessity for the iterative, collaborative development cycle of quality OERs.

OpenPress is beginning to take some real shape and we’ll start spreading the word about our first phase in the next 48 hours. Before we roll out the online service we will do a pilot run. This will be a full manual implementation of the process as a proof-of-concept. The second phase will be the development of the web-service that implements the process, informed by our learning from the manual process.

For the manual process we have selected the FHSST Grade 10 Mathematics book. The FHSST books and other open education resources have no authors’, editors’ or publishers’ royalties so we only need to worry about the cost of printing. Everybody knows the more of something you produce the cheaper it gets per unit and the same holds for printing. If we all put our individual orders together, everybody benefits from a better price. Our goal is to help everybody get the cheapest possible price by finding as many orders as possible and aggregating them together. To make it even more attractive we’ll place an order for the first 1000 books (R50,000) which we’ll donate to severely disadvantaged schools. This will guarantee a maximum price of R50 per book and every additional order will makes the price cheaper for everyone.

Details for the first pilot print run:

Book: Grade 10 FHSST Mathematics Book
Size: 272 A4-pages
Additional: soft copy of the answer key available for educators
Cover: Printed 4 colours on one side only, Matt Laminated one side on Sinar board 230gsm
Contents: Printed 1 colour black throughout on Typek Bond 70gsm
Finishing: Perfect bound, sewn trimmed to size
Price: R 50.00 per book (incl VAT) if the total print run exceeds 1000 books
R 40.00 per book (incl VAT) if the total print run exceeds 2000 books
R 35.00 per book (incl VAT) if the total print run exceeds 3000 books

The process:

  • We place the first order for 1000 Grade 10 FHSST Mathematics books with OpenPress
  • All interested schools, organisations and individuals submit the number of books they are interested in to OpenPress at
  • Submissions must reach us before the 15th of November 2009 (Please note that this is merely an expression of interest and not binding. We will not hold you to it in any way)
  • OpenPress finds the best possible price for the total order
  • OpenPress contacts everyone who expressed an interest with an offer at their best price
  • Parties wanting to commit to this print run completes a contract for the number of books they require
  • OpenPress prints the books, followed by payment and collection.

Other titles:

We are accepting expressions of interest for any of the 6 FHSST Books, Mathematics Grade 10,11 and 12 as well as Physical Science Grade 10,11 and 12 as part of the manual process. However, we can only guarantee a maximum price of R50 on the Mathematics Grade 10 book to start.

As soon as the OpenPress site goes live we will make available the full list of open titles available for order. To date we have located literally 100s of titles that have been released under an OpenPress-friendly copyright license.

About the Author

Mark Horner is the CEO of Siyavula Education, a social enterprise working in the school sector in South Africa. While working as the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow for Open and Collaborative Resources, Mark was able to transform the Free High School Science Texts (FHSST) project, which he co-founded, into Siyavula Education. In this process, openly-licensed, collaboratively authored textbooks have been printed and distributed nationally in South Africa. Working at the intersection of community, openness and technology; Mark intends to leverage this success to make Siyavula an innovative, technology provider in education that works effectively as part of the education community to ensure better learning opportunities for all. A recent notable event being the delivery of Siyavula's textbooks over Mxit, the most popular mobile chat solution in South Africa. Mark has a PhD in physics from the University of Cape Town and conducted his research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California on the results from the STAR experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York. His work is carried out in the belief that the liberation of information and support of education in South Africa will lead to a peaceful and prosperous future for all South Africans.