Textbook Revolution Announces Largest Repository of Free Textbooks on the Web

January 06, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Elizabeth Williamson, a professor at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, wanted her freshman writing class to better understand English grammar, but she didn't want to make them buy another textbook. So she searched the internet, where she found Textbook Revolution, a non-profit website that catalogs free educational materials online. In just a few minutes, Williamson discovered dozens of free exercises to use with her class.

Textbook Revolution enables users from across the world access to an index of free textbooks, reference works, and related materials. The Textbook Revolution collection, found at http://www.textbookrevolution.org, links to hundreds of alternatives to traditionally expensive textbooks. Unlike some sites which host pirated copies of print textbooks, all of the material at Textbook Revolution is legally made available by the individual copyright holders.

Jason Turgeon, founder of Textbook Revolution, says that he first started the site after getting frustrated by the costs of a physics textbook for an introductory class. "The book for my college class was a brand-new edition, bundled with a CD that we didn't use. It cost $126." He went online and discovered many free alternatives such as Motion Mountain and the Light and Matter series, two highly regarded free physics texts that have been used in universities around the United States. "The more I looked, the more free books I found, and I saw that part of the problem was that the books weren't well organized. Professors were writing them, students were asking for them, but there wasn't an easy way to connect the two groups. This was something I felt like I could fix fairly easily."

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Jason Dahl, an instructor at Rochester Community and Technical College in New York, says "I applaud what you are doing at this site." Textbook prices have grown so excessive at his school that students are considering organizing a textbook rental service. Russ Lorback, a teaching volunteer in Papua New Guinea, says that Textbook Revolution has provided an alternative to the 25 year-old textbooks his students were using. According to Dr. Ryan James, an American professor teaching in Hungary, "Here, university students do not buy books due to the cost." The free materials at Textbook Revolution ease the burden on professors who would otherwise have to create photocopied readers, a difficult and time-consuming procedure which often leaves the instructors in violation of copyright laws.

Textbook Revolution requires no log-in or fee to access the advertisement-free repository. Every effort is made to contact and credit authors, and the website contains mirrors to preserve back-up copies of the materials. Textbook Revolution's blog, The Stingy Scholar (http://www.stingyscholar.blogspot.com), is updated daily with links and tutorials.

Textbook Revolution has been featured on many prominent sites including Yahoo! Picks, Lifehacker, Red Orbit's Site of the Day, and Langalist. The repository appeared as a top story on popular social bookmarking sites Digg and Del.icio.us.