August 12, 2006
"Free" Textbooks!
Posted by Gordon Smith

Freeload Press has a catchy name. Their tagline is "Liberating the Textbook." Their marketing pitch:

Students spend an average of $900 per year on textbooks.

We propose they spend $0.

The secret sauce: advertising. Their e-books, which come with embedded ads, are provided without charge. Paperback versions are available in two flavors -- ads and no ads -- with differential pricing.

I registered and tried to download a finance book, but was unsuccessful. When I returned to the site, I was asked to register again. Forget it. I get the concept, and it doesn't appeal to me. "Burdening the Textbook" is more like it. But I freely admit that am a snob about advertising. (You will notice that we do not accept ads on Conglomerate.)

That said, this is probably an inevitable development. Students are a captive audience, and 20 years from now, I suspect that our textbooks will look more like People magazine than Prosser on Torts.

Also, for students with limited means, this idea would be a very welcome development. Unfortunately for those students, Freeload has only a handful of titles, and the current lack of execution on the website does not bode well for the long-term prospects of the company.

HT David Wood.

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