A popular online directory of pirated textbooks for download has closed shop for good, despite a recent taunt from its founder that he would continue to operate in defiance of threats of legal action by publishers.
The site, Textbook Torrents, came to the attention of publishers after being featured in a Chronicle article in July. Since then, publishers pressured the site’s founder — an anonymous college student who goes by the online name Geekman — to close, but he had refused, calling his site an act of “civil disobedience” meant to make a statement about the high cost of textbooks. Just last month Geekman told The Chronicle that he planned to find a way to keep the site up permanently.
But it appears that Geekman yielded to the pressure last week. He replaced the site with a statement noting that it is closed for good. “I would be lying if I claimed that the concern of legal action wasn’t a major factor in the decision,” he wrote in the statement. But he said the effort of maintaining the site was also a factor. “I am at heart an activist, a crusader for the underdog,” he wrote. “When I see something that I believe is wrong, I do what I can to fix it, if only in some small way. I believe this is what Textbook Torrents has stood for, and what we have done.” He called for others to set up similar pirate sites to fill the gap.
The blog TorrentFreak first noted the site’s demise last week. Jim Groom, an instructional-technology specialist at the University of Mary Washington, points out on his blog that the site’s popularity raises questions about the future of textbooks. —Jeffrey R. Young