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Where the money for your calculus book goes

April 6, 2009, 12:58 pm

stewart

You too can own a massive house if you sell enough calculus books.

There’s a new, five-story, 18000 square foot, $24 million house in Toronto that is built of curves and glass and boasts its own professional-quality concert hall. The owner? Not a billionaire financier, head of state, movie or sports star, or anything of the sort — it’s James Stewart, author of the Stewart Calculus franchise of books.

From the Wall Street Journal article:

As visitors descend into the house, the fins disappear and the views widen. On the first floor, push a button and a 24-foot wall of glass windows vanishes into the floor, opening the pool area to the outside. Curves are everywhere, down to the custom door handles and light fixtures. The architects are even working with Steinway to create a coordinating piano. [...]

An hour before five friends arrived for dinner, Mr. Stewart ambled around his kitchen, marinating some pork tenderloin chunks and tossing chopped leeks, red peppers and corn into a deep soup pot to simmer. He laid some ready-made sushi on a large red platter and then leaned back against a green-hued quartz countertop to relax.

Mr. Stewart say he isn’t overwhelmed by his home. “I just enjoy wandering around it,” he says. “Even now I’m still discovering details, and I’ve lived here for more than a year.”

Go to the article and look at the slideshow for more. It’s indeed a beautiful home (in a way it reminds me of St. Procopius Abbey near Chicago, which I visited last year).  I’m certainly not going to be down on Prof. Stewart for building his dream home, for which he apparently saved up money for 60 years. But it certainly destroys the old idea that professors never make money off of textbooks they write. And it also makes you wonder, if you recently spent $150 on a Stewart Calculus book, what part of that house you have a legitimate claim to. If you’re a Stewart Calculus book owner, I’d say you have a right to stop in at his place for sushi unannounced at any time.

A proposition for Prof. Stewart: Now that you’ve built your dream home and established your legacy, take all of your calculus books and make them available as free PDF downloads under a Creative Commons license, so students who are spending down to their last dime on textbooks can have a shot at saving for their dream houses, too.

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