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March 5, 2007

Freeload Press Makes Textbooks Free

Freeload Press is a US company with a very noble mission: "liberating the textbooks so students from all financial backgrounds can use these important learning tools." They try to convince authors make their books available for free in exchange of a sum of money. Then Freeload Press takes the books and inserts ads at the end of the chapters. The online version of the book will be available for free as a PDF, while the print version will be much cheaper than the original.

Tom Doran, cofounder of Freeload, explains why he built the company: "Textbooks cost too much, and students increasingly are showing up to class without probably the most important tool they need to succeed in the course, outside of the lecture."

Many teachers will probably say it's unacceptable to promote commercial products in an educational book, but Freeload's limited success should be a signal that this model might work at a larger scale, if implemented in a clever way. Freeload's tagline ("Imagine a world where textbooks are free") could be replaced with: "Imagine a world where books are free".

{ Sample image, courtesy of Freeload Press Inc. }


  1. It's a nice idea. But textbooks are big business and the major textbook publishers would never go along with this.

    I work in a college library, and textbook publishers go absolutely bonkers with rage when libraries buy textbooks and let students borrow them for free.

  2. I am a teacher. I use Google Docs in my classes. But I do not use Google Groups for my classes, because of the ads. And I most definitely will not be using textbooks with advertising attached. The more clever the implementation, the more I'd be inclined to avoid the books. That's not entirely true ... in the critical thinking courses I teach, I could use Freeload as an example of how things shouldn't be.

    Let's say I'm using a textbook that critiques consumerism. I'm using a book right now, We Know What You Want: How They Change Your Mind that offers various examples of how companies sneak their promotional materials and the like into our daily lives. I seriously doubt Freeload Press wants such books, books that, if they are doing their job, help teach students to beware of stealth advertising.

    It isn't much of a stretch to imagine that the only books available from Freeload will be books that are friendly to advertisers. And there is no place in schools for such a book selection process.

  3. Not exactly an unobtrusive, relevant, text ad, is it?

    I'm sorry, but keep the ads out of the textbooks. I don't think the cost of textbooks is a significant barrier to education for those who want the education. I have no problem paying $100 for an engineering textbook that has $100,000 ideas in it.

  4. I personally like the ebook format not because it's free, per se, but because it's more portable and searchable than an actual textbook. I agree that having ads in them isn't great, but a lot of publishers assume you'll just steal ebook versions anyway. So, if this is the solution, I can live with it. Though, I doubt it'll catch on in its current form.

  5. As a college student I have to say this is possibly the best idea ever. We are already over exposed to advertising, advertising that is non-beneficial, so whats the harm from a little more?. Besides, this form of advertising would be putting more money and my pocket, and it's not as if textbook publishers haven't already had their fill and made their profits. Its completely unfair that I am forced to pay for a new textbook every year because old editions have become obsolete. If available online, it would be much easier to update and correct articles. Besides, advertising is already in most textbooks, (i.e. my accounting text features Cash Flow and Balance statements from Coca-Coala.) Why not feature advertising that would benefit college students and save them some money ?

  6. So students save money on text books so they can buy hamburgers ?

    They'd be better off buying the books ....

    I like the concept, except for the unrelevant, disgusting ad. And we know what kind of ads they will get: fast food, taky movies, and so on.

    If they have no money for books, why putting ads ?

    Why not ebooks at a reduced price compared to normal textbooks ?

  7. I agree the ad from the image is bad and obtrusive, but that doesn't mean someone couldn't put clever/useful/targeted ads.

  8. Someone COULD put clever ads, but we both know that most will be like the one of the burger.

    Precisely what our kids need .....

  9. Hmm, I don't think college students will be buying burgers with the extra $$. more like they are better able to make payments for rent and tuition easier or invest the extra money instead of spending $500 a semester on books. I think people have forgotten how much textbooks cost....

  10. A really neat idea. I'll wait for the day when companies like Google start to do this using the same advertising technique that is currently being used in Google AdSense!

  11. I would think that students would pick this up and run with it if they had the option of a free book with some obvious ads in it or paying $100-150 or more per book that they likely only use about half of. Students are smart enough to know what is advertising and what isn't. They're cynical and very smart about advertising. They are surrounded by it all day. At the end of the day, the market is likely to move this way and the students will likely demand it once they see and experience it.

  12. Both my boyfriend and I are college students. He, as a pilot-in-training, racks up over $24,000 A YEAR (!!) in expenses, most of this in the form of loans. I run about $8,000 a year, and we could both use a break in terms of school costs. If anyone has experience with the time value of money, then they can tell you what that extra $800/year turns into over 10-20 years at 8%. Over 20 years (which many people take to repay their debt), that amounts to $3700 a year in book costs alone. Try telling us that the cost of books really isn't that high.

  13. hey there,

    why don't you have a look at eBook Searchr? That's a pretty big ebook search engine, you can find textbooks there as well...

    I save big on books with this search engine ;)

  14. I think this is a great idea
    I have two Children in college and no Finicail aid me and my husband make 50,000.00 a year and severe medical problems in the family but the goverment dont take that under consideration when you apply for finicial aid. so I say this is a great start to re structure the textbooks in college. Oh yea my husband is a printer and at one time in his life he printed Textbooks and said all they do is change a couple of words or pages and then make it a new edition its big money. I want my children to get a college education because its hard to get a job without one

  15. I think it's a great idea.. and not so I can buy hamburgers!... hombrelobo! I like the idea because my husband and I have a 2 year old and bills to pay. Why pay 400.00 a semester for new books when I can do this?

  16. I truly believe that we have reached the point where technology has become one with our world, and I am fairly confident when I say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.

    I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as the price of memory drops, the possibility of transferring our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I dream about all the time.

    (Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4i SDHC[/url] DS BB)