Freeloaders unite! YAFTOS is here(Yet another free textbook online site)

Readers of this blog have seen references in earlier posts to a couple of start-ups in the free e-book space, notably Flatworld Knowledge, (www.flatworldknowledge.com ) and Wowio (www.wowio.com) Well it turns out another company has been doing it for several years. Actually, it could be argued that this company originated the concept of free college textbooks. I’m referring to Freeload Press, which dates back to 2005, arguably the Middle Ages in terms of e-book evolution. The banners on their site read:

  • Students spend an average of $900 a year on textbooks, We propose they spend $0
  • Books + Download + Free = Freeload Press
  • Liberating textbooks and study aids for students from all financial backgrounds

http://freeloadpress.com/booklist.aspx

The CEO of Freeload, Tom Doran, informed me today that beginning this August, all of Freeload’s Textbook Media e-books will be browser-based, which permits use of rich media for academic content and advertising. While Freeeload Press will continue to offer ad-supported e-books for free, other publishers using Textbook Media can set end-user prices for the ad-supported e-book version. In either case, students can choose to pay for an ad-free e-book version, or an ad-free paperback version. The texts are in use at over 250 colleges and universities.

But one needs to look at the bigger picture of free vs paid content. All sorts of approaches are being experimented with, including 1)”Freemium” (a small percentage of users choose to pay for a premium level of service; 2) Cross-subsidies: also known as “loss leaders”, in which something free or cheap leads the buyer to purchase another, more expensive item, 3) Data Aggregation: Collect enough data from a large enough community of users, and sell that to sponsors who desire that demographic; 4) Altruism and the gift economy: aka open source movement and user generated content [for more on this, see Chris Anderson’s insightful piece in the MArch issue of Wired: “Free, why $0.00 is the future of business”, from which the above paragraph borrows generously]

All of which points to more reason to short Pearson and Prentice Hall, et al.

2 Responses

  1. Excellent, interesting post! Your new look is great.

  2. I am looking for possible journalarticle authors on free online electronic textbooks for the world’s poorest children, that for example could be downloaded onto X-O computer that is, for example, being experimented with in 9000 schools in Peru, in areas where many children who have hardly ever seen a book are using the X-O to create videos, create art and music, play chess and much more.

    I have been invited to be guest editor of a future issue of INNOVATE (over 80,000 readers in many countries).
    For example, I’d like articles
    –on the wiki method of creating free texts (for primary children
    –on developing creativity and imagination for an emerging new age, as in Robinson’s book OUT OF OUR MINDS.
    –on funding, reviewing, distributing, updating on the Internet
    adapted to the needs of each unique learner,

    I am personally interested in online learning materials for the world’s aboriginal peoples. I will be glad to say more about that to anyone interested.
    This blog invites comments and debate on the idea.
    http://www.nativeamericanfuture.blogspot.com.

    ***
    ( See my free- to-the- world regularly updated electronic textbook that has been accessed by more than a half million people in many countries, many of whom have sent ideas for its regular updating. It has been translated and in 2008 published by a university press China volume 3. chapter 7 begins to discuss free e-textbooks)
    ***
    Parker Rossman is a Yale Ph.D in education. He has taught at Yale, in the Middle East and in the Philippines.The EMERGING WORLDWIDE ELECTRONIC UNIVERSITY is one of his 16 published books.

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