Tag Archives: Publishing

April 14, 2014, 2:57 pm

The hidden costs of unsolicited textbooks — a view from the mailroom

Back in January I posted an article calling for an end to unsolicited review copies of textbooks being sent to professors. Interestingly, on Reddit a student at my university who works for the mail services department did an AMA, and I had the chance to ask: What kind of impact does it make on the university, from an infrastructure or mail services point of view, to have all these unsolicited books being sent in? Keep in mind that we’re a public university of 24,000 students and lots and lots of faculty. Here are some highlights from his response, which I thought was pretty interesting though not totally surprising:

Ugh, I HATE those! Nobody wants them, nobody asks for them, and they take up valuable space in our truck and our holding area.

As far as the cost it passes onto us, it’s definitely hard to quantify, but I can tell you all the different ways we waste time on those…

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August 13, 2012, 8:00 am

A free and open-source calculus textbook

Allow me to make a shameless plug for a very cool project currently underway by my GVSU colleague Matt Boelkins. He is writing a free, open-source calculus textbook that will be available in PDF form online for anyone to use and for any instructor to modify. He has already written the differential calculus portion of the textbook — his Winter semester sabbatical project — and he’s about to begin work on the integral calculus portion. You can download the differential calculus parts here. This is at his blog, where he is promoting the book and soliciting feedback. Matt’s also on Twitter.

Matt and I have talked about this project a lot in the last several months, and I’m deeply impressed by his vision for what this resource could become. He sums it up in this blog post:

While on sabbatical during the winter semester of 2012, I began drafting a free, open-source calculus text….

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February 8, 2010, 7:00 am

A simple idea for publishers to help students (and themselves)

OXFORD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08:  A student reads...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

I’m doing some research, if you can call it that, right now that involves looking at past editions of popular and/or influential calculus books to track the evolution of how certain concepts are developed and presented. I’ll have a lot to say on this if I ever get anywhere with it. But in the course of reading, I have been struck with how little some books change over the course of several editions. For example, the classic Stewart text has retained the exact wording and presentation in its section on concavity in every edition since the first, which was released in the mid-80′s. There’s nothing wrong with sticking with a particular way of doing things, if it works; but you have to ask yourself, does it really work? And if so, why are we now on the sixth edition of the book? I know that books need refreshing from time to time, but five times in 15…

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April 23, 2009, 2:17 pm

A business model for free content

In a comment on an earlier post, I said I would try to blog about Flat World Knowledge and their business model soon. Here’s a 20-minute video that goes over this business model which allows textbooks to be free but still provides compensation to authors.

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2414983&w=425&h=350&fv=thumb%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fcontent.screencast.com%2Fusers%2FEricFrank%2Ffolders%2FDefault%2Fmedia%2F21098702-63cc-4cd4-ac5a-9f9a3f0b8bcc%2FFirstFrame.jpg%26containerwidth%3D640%26containerheight%3D498%26content%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fcontent.screencast.com%2Fusers%2FEricFrank%2Ffolders%2FDefault%2Fmedia%2F21098702-63cc-4cd4-ac5a-9f9a3f0b8bcc%2FOverview%2520of%2520Flat%2520World%2520Knowledge%2520Business%2520Model.swf]

more about “A business model for free content“, posted with vodpod

Again: Free textbooks can be done; it just requires a different approach than the one we’re used to.

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