Because many textbooks are becoming available for download online, there's very little need to own the expensive, behemoth, hardbound textbooks anymore -- subsequently, reducing the need to schlep them around.
A company called Connexions
takes this approach many steps farther by not only publishing free textbooks, but also by allowing students and teachers to rewrite and edit material "as long as the originator is credited."Connexions
allows teachers to post material, called “modules,” and then mix and match their work with others’ to create a collection of material for students using broader Creative Commons
A New York Times article
likened textbook publishers to drug makers in the way that they offer incentives for professors to keep pushing for the print versions, which can cost upwards of US$ 200.
However, in the spirit of moral decision making, or, perhaps, because of an advanced understanding of web publishing
, some professors are choosing to make their textbooks available online, either for free or through print-on-demand shops like Lulu
or Flat World Knowledge
In response to these open source
savvy sites, textbook publishers have launched their own site called CourseSmart
. Owned collectively by five publishers, the site allows students to subscribe to a textbook and read it online, with the ability to highlight and print as needed. Though there's a subscription fee, it is half the traditional textbook price -- approximately US$ 90 per book. Sounds like a good way for both the backpack and the wallet to be lighter.
With the ravenous revolution of web publishing, the print industry
has struck yet another blow. Like its cousin the newspaper
, textbooks have been found to be easily replaced by technological innovation and users' general unwillingness to settle for inefficiency and irrelevancy.