Open Source Textbooks Gaining Traction

from the very-cool dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about the very cool business model being used by "open source textbook" company Flat World Knowledge. Basically, you could read the books for free online, but there were also other ways to get the book in other formats where you would have to pay. The company seemed to be gaining traction lately, with a nice round of funding, and now it's being reported that 40,000 students at over 400 colleges and universities will be using Flat World texts this fall. That sound you hear? It's an old stodgy market getting disrupted.

Related to this, Slashdot points out that here in California, where the state was running a free digital textbook competition, the results showed that some of the open solutions won the competition and were considered better reference materials than the ones provided by big publishers. In fact, the e-texts from a small company called CK-12 seemed to do quite well -- 3 of the 4 online texts that were deemed to meet 100% of the state's standards all came from CK-12.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ryan, Aug 21st, 2009 @ 3:45pm

    My textbooks were a step above worthless and a step below pond scum; however, I was forced to buy them for the sole reason that the instructor required homework from those books. Nobody is under the slightest misconception that most textbooks are actually worth their weight in dogshit, but colleges will have to consider the interests of their students over that of publishers, which would be a first. But if 400 colleges are already using them officially, then maybe there's hope after all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    kyle Clements (profile), Aug 21st, 2009 @ 4:20pm

    textbooks

    If you have a photocopier, and you work out the toner/paper cost per page, it's actually cheaper to take the textbook out of the library, copy each page, bind them and use that.
    Of course, that would be wrong...while hosing poor university kids who can barely afford food, well, that's just fine.

    back when i was in university, i saved a good chunk of money by not buying most of the textbooks. I would go in the library and read them for free. some of the texts were priced reasonably, so I rewarded those publishers with my dollars. But $150 for 300 pages of tissue paper? I don't think so.

    in this day and age, there is no reason why a textbook should not be a reasonably priced PDF file ($10 per student could work, but free would be better)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), Aug 22nd, 2009 @ 8:44am

    This has merit-there is a difference

    Every participant does so of their own volition. I assume that they will not misappropriate others work.

    This is very different from what is being pushed for inventors, where the masses egged on by corporate patent pirates feel entitled to steal inventors work.

    It seems to me that it is time for TechDIRT people to start inventing things, that is if the can, and contribute their inventions by publishing them here.

    Everyone should be aware that producing and documenting an invention is many orders of magnitude more difficult then whipping up the typical TechDIRT topic.

    This is an opportunity for the TechDIRT community to set a good example.

    Ronald J. Riley,


    I am speaking only on my own behalf.
    Affiliations:
    President - www.PIAUSA.org - RJR act PIAUSA.org
    Executive Director - www.InventorEd.org - RJR at InvEd.org
    Senior Fellow - www.PatentPolicy.org
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 8 pm EST.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    PrometheeFeu (profile), Aug 22nd, 2009 @ 8:53am

    I currently have very little money, but a lot of time, (yes, I am a recent college grad) and so I discovered that the Internet is a wonderful place filled with hundreds if not thousands of free text-books written by university professors. It allows me to use my time productively and interestingly when I am not reading and commenting blogs...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2009 @ 8:03pm

    Ed C.

    I guess it goes to show that when the players in the market aren't competing, others outside the market will. Of course, if they had been competing, they should be able to fend off new comers without even breaking a sweat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    inc, Aug 22nd, 2009 @ 8:37pm

    wow HACKED BY BIOHAZARD
    wtf happened?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    iNtrigued (profile), Aug 25th, 2009 @ 2:08pm

    Talking to myself...

    Even though no one else will probably be reading this post again, just wanted to say they either have a really fast turn around on the story submission or they were already working on this before I submitted the story. Either way, kudos to you TD!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Yeebok (profile), Aug 26th, 2009 @ 5:43am

    Re: This has merit-there is a difference

    That'd be the first time your post's been longer than your sig. And you managed to malign most readers while giving out your contact details. Excellent work. Here I was thinking lawyers weren't stupid, then I remembered where I usually your name..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Frances, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 11:34pm

    buy textbook

    You can also check out www.DealOz.com , DealOz compares 200 bookstore prices
    and free discount coupons too. Their coupons are valid and have saved
    over $500 on my textbooks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Frances, Sep 1st, 2009 @ 11:35pm

    buy textbook

    You can also check out www.DealOz.com , DealOz compares 200 bookstore prices
    and free discount coupons too. Their coupons are valid and have saved
    over $500 on my textbooks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Frances, Sep 14th, 2009 @ 11:23pm

    textbooks

    You can also check out www.DealOz.com , DealOz compares 200 bookstore prices and free discount coupons too. Their coupons are valid and have saved over $500 on my textbooks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Luke, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 7:14pm

    $15 to read online is not free.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Jacob, Aug 13th, 2010 @ 9:20am

    Textbooks Are A Rip

    Very interested idea indeed. Things are going to have to shift over to the digital world, it just makes so much sense.

    As a college student, I know first hand how expensive books can be and how much resources are wasting on printing new editions every year.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    lillyadams790 (profile), Sep 22nd, 2010 @ 12:30am

    Cheap Books

    I was looking online for the cheapest textbooks and came across http://www.cheapesttextbooks.com They have incredible prices and a huge selection.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    fodder99 (profile), Jul 11th, 2012 @ 7:31am

    I think the idea of as much free education in whatever media is a good idea. There are still people around who want to keep any knowledge to as few people as they can.. because knowledge IS power, and that scares some people

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Jim, Oct 5th, 2012 @ 7:37pm

    thanks for the info, how did you find out?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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