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Professors Put Textbooks Online

Penny-Wise Professors Learn How to Please Students


Buying college textbooks can tack on thousands to an already expensive experience; paying up to several hundred a semester really adds up. Students have learned to be creative in getting their hands on textbooks by buying used, borrowing from the library, or sharing with classmates, but some professors have recently stepped up to the plate in taking a stand against overpriced lecture material.

R. Preston McAfee, an economics professor at Cal Tech, has made his introductory economics textbook available online for free download. He sacrificed what could have been a $100,000 book advance and a $200 price-tag to list the book in a protest statement against outrageously priced college textbooks. In a similar endeavor, Richard G. Baraniuk, an engineering professor at Rice University, spearheaded a free textbook effort called Connexions that allows teachers to post collections of material for students.

Another service called CourseSmart has caught on quickly, but it isn't free. Five publishers have created the service that provides certain books online, and students pay about half of what a printed book would cost. It's great to see that more cost-effective options are becoming available to students, especially since college tuition is on the rise.

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