10/16/2012 04:46 EDT | Updated 12/16/2012 05:12 EST

B.C. to offer free textbooks online

The B.C. government is offering free online textbooks for post-secondary students who are taking the 40 most popular courses.

Advanced Education Minister John Yap says up to 200,000 students could save money next year.

"This new approach — open learning, free online textbooks — will help reduce the costs and help make education more affordable," he said.

The province will work with post-secondary institutions to implement the open textbook policy, with a plan to have the textbooks online as early as next year.

The province estimates students spend $900 to $1,500 each year on textbooks. The online textbooks will be free to view and can be printed for a fraction of the price of traditional texts.

Yap says B.C. is leading Canada in delivering free, open textbooks, and joins several other international jurisdictions in taking a leadership role in putting technology to work for students.

He estimates the program will cost taxpayers $600,000 to $1 million each year.