Take a look at this list of free and open textbooks. (Found this page a couple of clicks away from a helpful post at Peter Suber’s Open Access News.) Now note the stark imbalance between the number of science textbooks listed here and the number of humanities textbooks. Why is this?
It seems to me like there is a great opportunity here for funders, with potentially an incredible return on investment. Texas alone spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year on textbooks like the U.S. History survey. For less than a million dollars a high-quality free and open textbook could be produced, with print on demand producing paper copies where needed and with a slight markup on those printed versions possibly covering ongoing expenses for updating the work.
[Creative Commons image credit.]