Textbooks Cost Nothing Except Ad Space

Per Open Access News, a college newspaper in Minnesota is reporting a publisher is offering free textbooks.

Free textbooks. No, it’s not too good to be true. Ever since a St. Paul-based internet company began offering downloadable textbooks that contain advertisements, the concept of kicking costly textbooks to the curb seems within reach.

Freeload Press offers about 20 accounting and finance textbooks, study guides and worksheets, which can be downloaded from the company’s Web site,, as free Adobe PDF files.

Somehow, the ad-supported model of scholarly textbook publishing does not sit well with me, but it likely is something I need to get past because virtually service or good that is provided for free makes its money through advertising.

This story resonates with me, particularly now, as I prepare for my classes at Syracuse. Textbook selection always is a chore, and given my general dissatisfaction with the texts in the areas in which I teach, I always am seeking alternatives. One of the alternatives I’ve investigated is writing my own book or aggregating and editing my writings into materials I can use in lieu of a textbook.

To that end, I believe O’Reilly’s SafariU. initiative holds enough promise that I will investigate it seriously for implementation for future classes. SafariU. allows teachers to mix their own content with content from established publishers, including O’Reilly, Wharton School Publishing, Addison-Wesley, and Peachpit Press. The service also lets teachers build and distribute their own custom online course syllabus.

O’Reilly handles printing and online sales. Teachers retain the copyright to their material, while respective participating publishers retain the copyright to their material. And SafariU. is ad-free.

More than anything, SafariU. seems to be just the kind of product that lets teachers break free of the academic publishing cartel. Further, it is another in several new initiatives (including Apple’s iTunesU.) that lets teachers directly control and profit from their own intellectual property.

Anne Culver. The Next Form of Text. MSU Mankato Reporter. April 27, 2006.

CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the law, business, and technology of digital content. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.

Written by sesomedia

05/01/2006 at 08:55

Posted in Uncategorized

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