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Free MIT Engineering Text For Download

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the visit-manila-for-M1T-diploma dept.

Education 207

An anonymous reader writes " The (sci-tech) Library Question is reporting, "The third edition of A Heat Transfer Textbook, written by John H Lienhard V (MIT) and John H Lienhard IV (U Houston), has been made available on the web. The book is an introduction to heat transfer, geared towards engineering students. It may be downloaded free of charge. The authors explain: We are placing a mechanical engineering textbook into an electronic format for worldwide, no-charge distribution. The aim of this effort is to explore the possibilities of placing textbooks online -- effectively giving them away. Two potential benefits should accrue from doing this. First, in electronic format, textbooks can be continually corrected and updated, without the delays inherent in printed books (second and later editions are typically published on a five-year cycle). Second, free textbooks hold the potential for fundamentally altering the economics of higher education, particularly in those environments where money is scarce."

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Can't download babes this hot! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099033)

Is it any wonder people think Linux [debian.org] users are a bunch of flaming homosexuals [lemonparty.org] when its fronted by obviously gay losers [nylug.org] like these?! BSD [dragonflybsd.org] has a mascot [freebsd.org] who leaves us in no doubt that this is the OS for real men! If Linux had more hot chicks [hope-2000.org] and gorgeous babes [hope-2000.org] then maybe it would be able to compete with BSD [openbsd.org] ! Hell this girl [electricrain.com] should be a model!

Linux [gentoo.org] is a joke as long as it continues to lack sexy girls like her [dis.org] ! I mean just look at this girl [dis.org] ! Doesn't she [dis.org] excite you? I know this little hottie [dis.org] puts me in need of a cold shower! This guy looks like he is about to cream his pants standing next to such a fox [spilth.org] . As you can see, no man can resist this sexy [spilth.org] little minx [dis.org] . Don't you wish the guy in this [wigen.net] pic was you? Are you telling me you wouldn't like to get your hands on this ass [dis.org] ?! Wouldn't this [electricrain.com] just make your Christmas?! Yes doctor, this uber babe [electricrain.com] definitely gets my pulse racing! Oh how I envy the lucky girl in this [electricrain.com] shot! Linux [suse.com] has nothing that can possibly compete. Come on, you must admit she [imagewhore.com] is better than an overweight penguin [tamu.edu] or a gay looking goat [gnu.org] ! Wouldn't this [electricrain.com] be more liklely to influence your choice of OS?

With sexy chicks [minions.com] like the lovely Ceren [dis.org] you could have people queuing up to buy open source products. Could you really refuse to buy a copy of BSD [netbsd.org] if she [dis.org] told you to? Personally I know I would give my right arm to get this close [dis.org] to such a divine beauty [czarina.org] !

Don't be a fag [gay-sex-access.com] ! Join the campaign [slashdot.org] for more cute [wigen.net] open source babes [wigen.net] today!

$Id: ceren.html,v 7.0 2004/01/01 11:32:04 ceren_rocks Exp $

CEREN IS NOW A FAT, UGLY COW (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099047)

If anyone has seen a recent picture of Ceren Ercen, then you know that she's porked out like most geeky cybergoth girls do. She no longer has the svelte look she once did and has sold her devil costume quite some time ago. This just goes to show you that BSD is dying. What we really need are some sexy babes who can keep their figure, cook and clean, and keep their nose out of our business when us guys are up to something important.

Re:Can't download babes this hot! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099267)

MIT is nothing but a spamhaus. I get so much spam from MIT it's not even funny anymore. I'm glad I never went to MIT, cos it'd have graduated with no real skills. After all, what can SPAMMERS teach you? Other than spamming of course.

MIT [peoplesprimary.com] == spamhaus

Other experiments would be nice too (0, Offtopic)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099040)

The aim of this effort is to explore the possibilities of placing textbooks online -- effectively giving them away.

How would you like to explore the possibilities of placing your credit card number online?

Re:Other experiments would be nice too (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099113)

Brilliant! It's BRILLIANT!!!

Re:Other experiments would be nice too (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099165)

Evidently on-topic, pithy, humorous commentaries are beyond the intellectual capacity of some metamoderators. Sigh. No one is watching the fox guarding the henhouse.

posting textbooks (3, Insightful)

neuroinf (584577) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099041)

This is a great initiative. It promotes the idea that we should look at the real value in education. The real value is in the people students get to work with (eg. the authors), and the personal experiences they go through on the way to graduate. Why should publishers make profits in this process when they don't add value?

Re:posting textbooks (4, Informative)

fbform (723771) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099135)

Brad Lucier [purdue.edu] at Purdue founded an online publishing group called Trillia [trillia.com] , which does something similar.
He has submitted a related story [slashdot.org] on Slashdot before.

Re:posting textbooks (4, Informative)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099260)

wikibooks.org [wikibooks.org]

Re:posting textbooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099408)

Why have they put Perl in the general puropose languages category, Ruby in the "Object Oriented languages" category and Python under "scripting languages"?

http://wikibooks.org/wiki/Programming:List_of_lang uages [wikibooks.org]

Re:posting textbooks (1)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099508)

"Why have they put Perl in the general puropose languages category, Ruby in the "Object Oriented languages" category and Python under "scripting languages"?"

Change it if you like.

I have to admit that I'm responsible for a load of the Perl book, and I'm still not sure if it's in programming:perl or programming:languages:perl

Re:posting textbooks (3, Insightful)

cmdrxizor (776632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099236)

Of course, it could also be asked why should the authors participate in this process if they don't make any profits?

Writing a textbook is not an easy feat, and posting them online for free download doesn't give the author any sort of compensation for their work other than the satisfaction of making students happy.

Also, I find it unlikely that this will really catch on, simply because most of the professors I've dealt with simply would not consider a textbook like this, or wouldn't even be aware of it. The publishing industry does market itself really well - professors get sample books which often end up being used for classes. A prof might see an online book as being somehow of lesser caliber (in terms of factual accuracy, author credentials, or otherwise) than an actual printed book.

I would imagine there would also be legal liability issues involved in this, suh as if the text accidentally contained false information.

It's a good idea, but I don't think it's the way to go. Low-cost textbook distribution needs to happen, but I don't think no-cost will work -- at least not yet.

Re:posting textbooks (4, Insightful)

Shisha (145964) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099261)

It is a well known fact that the authors don't get much (financially) for publishing a textbook. On the other hand I wouldn't go as far as saying that publishers don't add any value, but I'd say that the value they add is not proportional to the final price.

The trouble, of course, is that with (especially graduate) textbooks, there are very few people who'd possibly buy it, making publishing them an expensive task.

By the way, if you're intrested in mathematical analysis but you aren't prepared to spend an entire years budget on those nice yellow Springer books, check out Modern analysis online [kcl.ac.uk] for not so much books as lecture notes; still a good source.

As a side note: The papers on "Modern Analysis Online" are still copyrighted by their respective authors. I'm sure you can download them, print them, but certainly not publish them. The website has all the boring details.

Re:posting textbooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099399)

Translation:
I don't want to make any money since I'm not fond of eating and I don't change my clothes often enough. Also, I don't mind other cultures being put on an equal footing with mine so that they can eventually conquer our little kingdom and then completely reverse any human equalities we have strived to achieve.

First texts on heat transfer, next thermonuclear technology and maybe even sausage design.

Great idea, let's expand it. (1)

agent dero (680753) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099045)

I think it'd be something nice to put a LOT more of college textbooks online, maybe just provide it as a free service to a university's students or something

It cost almost $600 last time I bought books, anything is still something,

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (3, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099080)

provide it as a free service to a university's students ... It cost almost $600 last time I bought books

You do realize that you'd just be transfering the cost, right? "Free" means "included in your tuition", which means rather than paying $600 for your books at a book store, you're paying $600 more in tuition and get your books for free. Sure, some amortization is possible, but is it really fair for a student whose major typically requires $200 in books to subsidize a major that requires $600 in books? I'd rather see textbook costs drop to a realistic level ($90+ for a single book is ridiculous, but it's the way things are going), rather than provide it "for free" in your tuition.


Then again, I'm no longer in school, so it won't affect me unless I have kids at some point in the (very very far) future.

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (3, Interesting)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099180)

I've heard people talk of these ridiculously high costs for books in the US before. in my experience it isn't true here in the UK: to me an expensive book is above 30, and a book above 40 has no chance. also I've bought ~6 books over my 4 year degree, mostly because I wanted to, you are never required to buy a book.

in my courses (physics) the point of lectures is to obtain a set of notes good enough to work completely on their own in most cases. questions and answers are also provided by lecturers.

without wanting to sound like a flame or anything, is it possible that in the US lecturers just can't be bothered or aren't given the resources to teach their pupils properly and so fall back on textbooks which the money-grabbing publishers are happy to exploit (I've heard tales of unnecessary book-CD bundles etc. all just to inflate prices).

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099190)

UK higher education is subsidized. You pay less in tuition but your taxes are astronomically higher. I'd rather have the lower taxes. They also have price controls on textbooks, which is why the textbook burden gets shifted to us. In any case, I don't think there's much of a diff. between UK and US lecturers--sometimes you just *need* the text (i.e. for problems, diagrams, etc.)

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (1)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099204)

like I said problems are supplied by the lecturer (better since it's more relevant to the actual course and exam) and so are copies of diagrams etc.

understanding copyright law is your friend - you are allowed to copy a certain amounts of textbook for private study etc.

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (2, Insightful)

Bob Zer Fish (568540) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099344)

I dunno, I use a library myself! ;)

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (1)

Bob Zer Fish (568540) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099352)

They also have price controls on textbooks, which is why the textbook burden gets shifted to us. NO, we really don't. 30 is around $50. We have to pay the costs for the US publishers to publish in this country or publish in the US and ship them over. Imho, you really need the texts if you want to get a good grade, but that's just my uni.

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099463)

You say there are "price controls on text books" in the UK.
Where did you get this idea? From a cereal box? There are
no price controls in the UK. I know that doesn't fit the lower
taxes blah blah agenda you were pushing, but it's a fact.

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (3, Interesting)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099278)

"I've heard tales of unnecessary book-CD bundles etc. all just to inflate prices"

"As stupid as I found the idea of printing a book about Web publishing, the idea of stuffing a CD-ROM in the back seemed to belong to a whole new category of stupidity. Macmillan initially wanted a CD-ROM, on the grounds that readers think such books have more value. I said that if we couldn't get some complete RDBMS packages for the CD-ROM then there was no point in having it (and in fact as my book came out Oracle decided to make all of its software available for download on the Web so there would not have been any point even if we could have gotten a full Oracle for the disk).


I asked Macmillan to put in the standard CD-ROM pocket but fill it with a black cardboard disk, said disk to be printed with the URL for the book's virtual CD-ROM (http://demo.webho.com). Macmillan said that would be more expensive than a real disk so we ended up printing the inside back cover with a nice "no CD" symbol underneath which ran my text:

Would you really want to take Web publishing advice from someone who had to burn a CD-ROM to distribute his software? Come to http://demo.webho.com for electronic versions of the source code examples in this book, for live demos of the software in use, and for the packaged source code to larger systems. IMHO, this URL is better than a CD-ROM. You can't lose it. You can't scratch it. You can't leave it in your office when you need it at home. You can give it to your friends and still keep it for yourself.

People laugh when they read this so I think it worked."


Philip Greenspun [greenspun.com] , writing about his book Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing [greenspun.com]

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (1)

DrFalkyn (102068) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099302)

No it means that some professors in the U.S. are unscrupulous and write their own texts in order to make money, then force the students to buy a new edition every year. The ones that don't write their own are probably getting kickbacks from the publishers, or possibily on the departmental/university level.

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099459)

I know that you said you weren't trolling, but it sure sounds like it. If you think that you can pick up everything you need about a topic from a few hours of lecture a week then your education is seriously flawed. A book is used to supplement and reenforce all the topics and ideas introduced in lecture.

Furthermore, engieering is a more empirical subject area than physics (especially at the lower course levels), so it is not possible to derive certain aspects, such as good analog circuit design. You need references to provide you with proven methodologies (again this is especially important in an undergraduate degree).

And if you want to spew out nonsense about US professors than two can play at that game, except I have actually studied in both countries. And in my limited experience I can say that a US professor is far more likely to help a student out that one from the UK.

Dedekind library (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099089)

You may be interested by the Dedekind library:
http://books.pdox.net/

Re:Great idea, let's expand it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099265)

Great Idea, and sales won't really be impacted much. If anything, authors names, and the booklists it gets added to will grow. Smart move.

NOT FREE.
Downloading, Disk Storage, or printing and binding/ even photocopying costs $$$.

For whatever reason, I prefer to buy books, A4 is not a good format for skimming.

I know "heat transfer" sounds dull... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099046)


...but engineers laugh at us for reading O'Reilly's books.

Re:I know "heat transfer" sounds dull... (1)

Mengoxon (303399) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099210)

This is asking for an "off-topic" mod:

But, the first time I saw Krusty I always thought that it is really Homer's secret second life which nobody knows about. I was really thinking that in a future episode all of this would be revealed. But after seeing Krusty and Homer several times together, I gave up on that.

It could be the key to renewable power. (2, Offtopic)

Moderation abuser (184013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099217)

Sure, sounds dull but heat is looking like a viable way of storing energy generated from renewable sources.

CAES systems use air compressed using energy from off peak generation to provide generation capacity during peak hours:

http://www.pbworld.com/pbenergy/caes.htm

Already implemented in Germany and Alabama.

The Solar II power tower system in California stores concentrated heat from the sun in molten salt in order to generate power at night and during cloudy periods.

http://rhlx01.rz.fht-esslingen.de/projects/alt_e ne rgy/sol_thermal/powertower.html

Must be terrible. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099052)

Like Open Source software, it must be given away because it is inherantly shit.

FLAMES!

Just kidding.

Good Idea (3, Interesting)

SeXy_Red (550409) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099055)

This is a very good idea; it would be nice not to have to pay $500+ a semester for books. I am concerned that if this catches on, that a company would find a way to profit from the online books, bringing the college students back into the same situation that they're currently in, which is paying out the ass for basicly renting books for a semester (assuming the college has a book buy back program).

Another thing, will schools then start supplying laptops or tablet PC's to view these text books on while in class?

Re:Good Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099131)

If it moves to a subscription model with no distribution rights, then there will be no secondary market either.

Assuming some honesty... (4, Interesting)

Denyer (717613) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099057)

...on the part of people who complete the download form, this is also an opportunity for authors to gain feedback from parts of the readership demographic they wouldn't normally be in contact with.

With some engineering and science -related courses suffering from low levels of interest, a wider availability of resources could (as the article suggests) draw out those who aren't applying for financial reasons, whilst giving others a taste of subjects and their potential uses in picking a career path and making a difference. After all, most people have felt they've had a good idea or two at some time or other... many have been discouraged only by the lack of readily available background knowledge.

Yay for more open learning!

Well I have no clue what its about.. (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099364)

But I downloaded it. Gave them correct information. Plan to expand my horizons by finding out what it is about.

On a side note, the Economist recently ran an article asking if Public Libraries are now out dated. If so then it is says a lot about society and not much of that is bad. Making texts of books like this available is a start, making the fact that they are available is the real task. Perhaps the government can use some of that money wasted on pork barrel projects to provide a public "Internet library" which collects such releases as this?

beneficial in more ways than one (2, Insightful)

acceber (777067) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099060)

Two potential benefits should accrue from doing this. First, in electronic format, textbooks can be continually corrected and updated, without the delays inherent in printed books. Second, free textbooks hold the potential for fundamentally altering the economics of higher education, particularly in those environments where money is scarce.
It would also eliminate the need to carry around excessively heavy textbooks which often lead to back pain and other detrimental health issues.

Schools and other educational institutions would probably welcome this as well as it saves storage space, and most importantly, financial resources which can be used in other areas where the money would be of better use such as upgrading technology which is a critical factor. There is nothing worse than having equipment and resources which are outdated and obsolete.

Re:beneficial in more ways than one (3, Interesting)

timealterer (772638) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099085)

While not having to carry around textbooks is nice, and I'm never without a Palm or laptop, I have to admit I always prefer reading printed text. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I just find printed text I can write on, fold, flip through, read in the sun, etc. to be a lot easier to read from.

Re:beneficial in more ways than one (1)

gears5665 (699068) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099256)

ok...then print and bind your own book from the webpages and still save 120$/text.

Re:beneficial in more ways than one (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099274)

I agree that ebooks will never completely displace textbooks, but in any case here is a really cool suggestion for taking notes on your laptop and have them overlayed within your ebook.

http://radio.weblogs.com/0104634/2003/07/31.html#a 2071 [weblogs.com]

When can we start (4, Interesting)

beachplum (777797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099061)

Free textbooks online? The ability to continually update and correct errors and misinformation? Sign me up.

Also, one of the big issues in textbook publication is that the information included sometimes can be determined by what state publishes the text - this is especially true in history and biology, both of which are full of political dynamite.

Maybe eventually this will lead to a freer exchange of information.

Re:When can we start (2, Informative)

Kafka_Canada (106443) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099101)

Check out Wikibooks [wikibooks.org] .

(Keeping it short cuz I posted about it in a new thread).

Well... (1)

zeruch (547271) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099063)

...at least they have let their motives and approach be known in a transparanet fashion. More power to them. Certainly there are trade-offs in doing this, but depending on what you are seeking to achieve (read: a profit-motive, a vetting/review motive, an exposure motive related to vanity rather than review, etc) you could gain quite a bit from this.

Here are some more free books (4, Informative)

kunudo (773239) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099065)

Here [lightandmatter.com] (introductory physics.)

Noble Effort (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099066)

As a college student, I can certainly appreciate the benefits of free textbooks, lord knows the bookstore overcharged by several limbs. The question is not whether or not this would benefits students and the community at large, but instead one of costs versus benefits.

Writing a textbook is no small endeavor, professors often spend months upon months writing and revising a single text. While the Open Source community can survive off the valiant efforts of thousands of coders worldwide, the number of individuals in higher academia qualified to write textbooks is much more limited.

I just can't envision a scenario where this kind of approach is sustainable in a long-term or wide-reaching context. Thoughts?

-- Frag00

Re:Noble Effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099132)

A lot of professors, or at least the one's I've worked for editing and proofing their text books, do not get a lot of money for their work. He said, maybe $10,000.

Its more for recognition, since that is the real currency of professors, and with it higher pay from the university.

Re:Noble Effort (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099137)

There are many more professors than you are giving credit for. If they are working for a University, They can update it bit by bit.

What would be nice though is an oversite body. Each college pays a small amount $100,000 per school?? For unlimited access and all access is granted inside the college system. The The colleges can raise that money by making each student pay $5 or so.

Or better yet have each College collect $5-$10 from each student and that money goes to the oversite board, that makes sure the books are updated, and not biased to location.

Re:Noble Effort (2, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099207)

Writing a textbook is no small endeavor, professors often spend months upon months writing and revising a single text.

According to this Professor: [sa2.info] "A typical [College] textbook earns the author less than $3,000 over a five-year or longer period." That's not a lot of money we're talking about. It could be funded in a number of different ways. We could have featured sponsors, student micropaiments, and paypal donations.

While the Open Source community can survive off the valiant efforts of thousands of coders worldwide, the number of individuals in higher academia qualified to write textbooks is much more limited.

Yes, but we don't need that many books in the first place. If the authors adopt the open source model and allow others to contribute to or take what they need from their work, then the same book won't have to be rewritten from scratch by a thousand different authors.

I just can't envision a scenario where this kind of approach is sustainable in a long-term or wide-reaching context. Thoughts?

This approach is sustainable. It won't replace dead-tree college textbooks, that's for sure, but at least it will be a viable alternative for some students and some poorer countries.

Re:Noble Effort (1)

azaris (699901) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099350)

Yes, but we don't need that many books in the first place. If the authors adopt the open source model and allow others to contribute to or take what they need from their work, then the same book won't have to be rewritten from scratch by a thousand different authors.

Yeah, just like open source software removes the necessity of many teams writing the same type of software over and over again.

Seriously, different authors often try different pedagogical approaches to writing books. Or maybe they liked some book that's no longer available and now write their own in similar style. Maybe they're in it for the money. The problem is not really the multitude of different textbooks (after all supply should lower the overall prices) but the bloatedness and uselessness of the average textbook.

I'd bet the average college freshman would balk at a 100-page real analysis textbook that has nothing but theorem/proof/corollary after another. So instead they get a 1000-page calculus bible with color pictures, useless thought experiments and a $100 pricetag. Publishers simply offer what they think the schools want.

Re:Noble Effort (2, Insightful)

rsheridan6 (600425) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099406)

My dad was a professor, and he wrote a few textbooks. The writer doesn't make much money off of them unless it's something like a popular Econ 101 textbook which will sell lots of copies. More specialized books for higher level courses (like this heat transfer book) don't sell many copies, and if you're in it for the money you'd be better off mowing lawns than writing one. Professors do get recognition, better raises, etc. for publishing a textbook and that's probably more of an incentive.

The editors and the publishing company are in it for the money, though. I don't know how important they really are, and how much of a substitute direct contact with the readers is for them. We'll see.

Incentive (4, Insightful)

timealterer (772638) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099077)

Here's something to ponder. Why does somebody write a textbook? Is it because they enjoy the subject matter, enjoy writing, and want to write an engaging, accurate book? Or is it because one can charge large sums for such a textbook? Unfortunately it's often the latter.

While the idea of an epic "Commercial vs. Open" textbook rivalry akin to that seen in software is romantic, writing a textbook tends to be somewhat less pleasant, less rewarding, more expensive, and more exacting than writing software. I'd hate to think the foremost experts in fields may be discouraged from writing one day because they can't compete with free, mediocre sources.

Re:Incentive (3, Insightful)

BlightThePower (663950) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099225)

Why does someone write a textbook?
Well its certainly not for the money. The typical textbook brings in negligable sums at best. Typically about 2000 GBP as far as I can tell. The general reason is because you require a book for your students that doesn't exist. And if you have the course notes you've written to hand then its more or less there as a by-product. A bit of polishing and you are away.

Sorry, I know this sounds a little disappointing, its done for reasons of dull expediency and neither fame nor fortune.

For graduate level texts/"professional" publications the story is of course rather different, and the reasons for doing it are pretty much the same as writing journal papers; (i) "publish or perish"; (ii) mindshare within your field; (iii) again, the damn book you wish was written for your students (this time grads) doesn't yet exist. Writing a whole book is a little inefficient insofar as its only one line on the CV and indeed, if we look back before the days of "publish or perish" you will note that practically everyone had written a book at some point in their careers. However, this seems to be a declining trend, at least within the sciences where time is perhaps better spent on publishing normal papers or writing grant applications.

Re:Incentive (2, Informative)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099263)

On the contrary, I think open textbooks could be the best thing to happen to education in quite a while. When you're taking a class, the textbook is almost never the only source of information the teacher uses, and you rarely go through the book in order from chapter 1 to the end. Every teacher thinks they can do better than the textbook author, and they all add supplements and additions that often contain good ideas, but are never seen outside of their own classrooms. With an open textbook approach, every teacher would be free to mix and match lessons from any source and put them together in any order they wanted. The "open textbook" need not be one single book, but could be a collection of pieces. Popular collections of pieces could be printed in bulk like normal textbooks, or teachers could print their own custom textbooks at Kinko's or whatever. All their new ideas and improvements could be submitted back to the open textbook repository for everyone to benefit from. Imagine using a textbook that was built from the combined wisdom of every teacher in the field!

With this system, nobody would have to write textbooks at all any more. All the material would already be written, but in a constant state of peer review and revision by people who have an interest in making it better. There would be no point in writing a "new" textbook; simply revising the open textbook to suit your needs would be much easier and would result in a better end product since the open textbook would be high quality starting material.

Re:Incentive (1)

apache guevara (776292) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099416)

Lofty as the idea of a constantly evolving online text might be, the academia is one eccentric bunch. Editing the text to add supplementary material and say changing a few heading is fine. But profs use different notations for even quantities as basic as heat in thermodynamics. Anyone spare a thought for the poor TA who manually goes thro the whole book replacing the 'H' Heat with a 'Q'.
No find and replace tool has been made that can get around that one!

Re:Incentive (1)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099475)

Those stubborn profs are welcome to use old textbooks, or fork the open textbook. But they might find that the open textbook contains materials that they want to use, and that maintaining their fork is more trouble than it's worth. I would put that as an advantage of the open textbook idea: adoption of standardized notation.

Re:Incentive (1)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099294)

Here's something to ponder. Why does somebody write a textbook? Is it because they enjoy the subject matter, enjoy writing, and want to write an engaging, accurate book? Or is it because one can charge large sums for such a textbook? Unfortunately it's often the latter.

But remember that investing a year of your life to write a book for free, even if you enjoy writing it, won't put food on the table. Unfortunately scientists can't live from fame alone. I would love to be able to spend my time any way I like, and then write a great book on my specialty, but if I don't get paid to do it, I simply can't do it. It is even worse: I need the money up front, so I need a publisher to give me an advance. And it's the publisher that sets such an outrageous price for books.

Re:Incentive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099369)

But remember that investing a year of your life to write a book for free, even if you enjoy writing it, won't put food on the table. Unfortunately scientists can't live from fame alone.
Academic textbooks are usually written by professors who make a very decent salary.

Rubbish (1)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099380)

A tiny number of textbooks that end up making quite a lot of money, typically things like first year economics or commerce textbooks, that have a large student body and a long shelf-life.

The vast majority of textbooks don't make a significant amount of money. Certainly not enough to justify writing them for that purpose alone.

Quality (2, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099079)

Free textbooks sounds like a nice idea, but I have to wonder if quality will suffer as a result. There is going to be great pressure from student groups to use free textbooks, even if there are better textbooks available. Since the vast majority of authors can't afford to give away their work for free, this will inevitably reduce the competition between textbooks.

Re:Quality (3, Insightful)

tootlemonde (579170) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099125)

I have to wonder if quality will suffer as a result.

I would expect free textbooks to improve the quality of both free and non-free ones.

First, assuming that a qualified author writes a free textbook, there should be a fairly high base quality because the author's reputation among his peers is at stake. Another author of a non-free textbook would then have to write a better book than the free one if he expects to charge for it.

Second, because the free electronic books are subject to frequent revision, other experts and students can submit criticisms and suggestions that can be instantly incorporated.

Since the vast majority of authors can't afford to give away their work for free..

Actually, in the textbook field, they can afford to give their work away because they're paid by a university. One should not underestimate the desire for the esteem of one's peers in any endeavor.

Re:Quality (1)

cperciva (102828) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099148)

Actually, in the textbook field, they can afford to give their work away because they're paid by a university.

It's not that simple. Time spent writing textbooks is time not spent doing teaching or research. Less teaching means that the university needs to hire someone else; less research means less research grants, which will cause problems at institutions which get a large fraction of their income by deducting "overhead costs" from their professors' research grants.

Re:Quality (2, Interesting)

mar1boro (189737) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099300)

Time spent writing a text, if it is good, increases the writer's reputation.
A well regarded and published professor is money in the bank for a university.
A professor who "pens" a text that becomes one of _the_ texts in his field
can elevate his university's stature tremendously. Imagine if we cut out the
middleman. A university handles the electronic pulishing duties.
In your case the text becomes "The cperciva Text." It can be updated
indefinitely. Continuous peer review. Continuous contributions
from that university's professors forever.

I'm not going to propose the details for an entire compensation system.
It is way too early in the morning for that. I think though, that the lessening
of text costs would only be one of many benefits. Dynamic texts could change many things.

More Free eBooks (5, Informative)

wehe (135130) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099082)

I have started to collect a survey of free eBooks [tuxmobil.org] , which contains links to free tech eBooks as well as fiction eBooks (and free AudioBooks).

Education is not only a textbook... (2, Insightful)

Kulic (122255) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099087)

I applaud the authors for their attitude and their willingness to make this textbook available for free download. However, I think that they may be over-estimating the value of a good textbook.

Let me clarify that last statement - I think that a good textbook is an essential element of a good education on a particular subject, but I do not think that it is the only element required. A well-rounded education should also include hands-on lab time (costs money) and people you can ask to help you and to explain what you are having problems understanding (costs money).

Now, if this book is aimed at people for whom money is a problem, isn't it naive to think that they have access to a computer (and enough time on that computer to read and understand the text)?

This book could quite possibly replace existing texts and lower the cost of an education, but I doubt that it would become the entire education. However, I don't think that you can have too many alternative texts on a subject, especially when they are free.

Is there a solutions manual? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099091)

I downloaded the textbook and it looks real good. I wish I could do the problems and know if I got the right answer or not. Wait, no professor on earth would be able to use this textbook then. Damn.

Wikibooks (4, Informative)

Kafka_Canada (106443) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099094)

For those of you who are interested in free (as in speech and beer) textbooks, please check out Wikibooks [wikibooks.org] . It's a Wiki, like the Wikipedia, but wholly devoted to offering free books (primarily textbooks).

I'm not involved in running Wikibooks, I just use it and contribute to it, and I think it's a great project worth spreading the word about; plus, the more people contribute to it, the better it is.

Re:Wikibooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099342)

Hey, I think there's a thread up there you didn't post this to yet. Better get cracking.

More online books? Better for humans? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099095)

We should see more books like that, because there might be geniuses who cannot go to universities or afford books. But if they lay their hands on free online books they might change the world.

For example, Michael Faraday, received very little education. Everything he learned was from books that came to him as a bookbinder. Now lets say, he newer became a bookbinder. What would have happened? Wonderfull mind would not have been used for what it was used.

Thats a great example, when right people get their hands on books which are in interest of them wonderfull things can happen.

I hope we will see more online books. Now the education will be available pretty much to everyone who has access to a computer. Not only those who's parents rich, can afford them to send to best colleges in the world.

Anyone aggree with me? or see my point?

W00T!! (1)

fostware (551290) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099104)

Maybe some overclocker websites can finally pull their heads outta their arses and read a textbook on the subject.
Somehow my definition of "Humanitarian Aid for online O/C'ers" didn't meet Amazon's requirements for cheap books :(

errors in textbooks, PC (3, Insightful)

kardar (636122) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099108)

I still have on one of my hard drives somewhere a PDF file that points out really horrible errors in typical school textbooks; these were mostly high-school books, but in any case, it really points to the pressures that are placed on book publishers; many pressures that have nothing to do with accuracy of information, but coming from a sense of policital correctedness, and so on. There are influential people in the management levels of the textbook publishers, and there are certain standards that must be upheld in order for that book to be selected by a school system, especially a school system that is funded with taxpayer dollars. Obviously, having checks and balances when it comes to taxpayer dollars is an important thing. But the errors are pretty bad, and there are quite a few of them, at least in the one review there that I read.

Perhaps the idea of putting this kind of information online, if there is a way that this can be done without too much lost inertia from the fact that you are just giving away your hard work for nothing (i.e. also sell the book in hard-copy), have a donation place for it, or somehow organize funding in some other way. Also, you don't necessarily go through a big publisher to do it this way - you can have more freedom to simply produce an accurate textbook, without having some committee breathing down your neck or having your work thrown in haphazardly with ten other authors' work.

And there may be more control over the authorship, and the way the whole thing is put together.

But generally speaking, for instance, O'Reilly books are not that particularly expensive, and I just kind of feel better contributing some type of financial money to the author, and having a hard-copy book has its benefits as well, in case you feel like not being tied down to the computer or laptop screen. I like buying books, but I also like using electronic formats sometimes (it's easier and faster to take notes), it's especially cool when you are studying a programming language and you can see examples in the book and try out your own while you are physically sitting at your computer.

Electronic formats are good, and hard-copies are good too. What really needs to happen is that the cost of the textbooks, the hardcopy textbooks, need to come down by at least 50%. Again, this can be blamed on the "big publishing companies" - many of the policies and procedures that are commonplace at these types of embedded publishers drive the costs of textbooks up, and increase the number of errors in those textbooks at the same time. Paying some 30 dollars for a very excellent O'Reilly book, for instance, is really no big deal, considering how long it's going to take to read it and work through it, and hopefully the authors are getting some kind of reward in there too. Having an electronic format available for free, especially in the situation where one has purchased the hardcopy, is, I think, a really good idea; especially if that electronic format can have an errata somewhere or something.

To sum up, I think that the price of textbooks needs to come down, and the errors need to be lesser in number as well. These two things appear to be tied in together, to some extent. Furthermore, there should be a means to reward the authors for their work; I don't think that giving away books for free is really going to encourage people to write quality material; there needs to be some sort of way to integrate the hard copy and the electronic copy in a way that increases the benefits to the reader and still rewards the author and encourages more people to write quality material.

I think that this is going to turn out to not be quite as easy as it sounds.

How About a Review? (2, Insightful)

Lucidus (681639) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099124)

This is a wonderful initiative, which I think most of us will want to encourage - but to really determine it's value, we need to know how good the book is. Does it match the standards of currently available conventional (i.e. expensive) texts? It would be great to see a review by a highly-qualified engineer or professor.

Brilliant .. but I was wondering ... (1)

The MESMERIC (766636) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099126)

If anyone knows of more Pure Mathematic books online.
By the way Thanks for the Dedekind link!
But when I search the net (or P2P) - I find that most e-books are PDFs and I hate PDF's so much :(
I know a Maths textbook would be impossible to be done in text and HTMLing one would be way too much effort ...
but I am seriously averse to PDFs (maybe it's just me?) - finding them somewhat demotivating.
I never go beyond page 10 - in sharp contrast with HTML or Text which I read cover to cover.

Re:Brilliant .. but I was wondering ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099415)

Search around and you should find groups that P2P share ripped textbooks. They keep it quiet because the TBIAA is pretty harsh. Sometimes the files don't match the contents. Last night I downloaded what was labeled as an OS book but it was just pages and pages of "What the Hell do you think you're doing?" I think it must be a philosophy text book instead.

Overpriced college texts SUCK! (1)

k4rm4_p0l7c3 (583281) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099151)

First, in electronic format, textbooks can be continually corrected and updated, without the delays inherent in printed books (second and later editions are typically published on a five-year cycle)

maybe it's a five year cycle for true science texts, but for everything else in the US college system it seems like new editions come out yearly or bi-yearly. Thus negating the usefulness of the return that book you bought at the end of the semester. 'cause they won't want it any more..

You-know, I thought Gutenberg liberating books with movable type meant freedom of information on some level. Look how we've started to turn back the wheels of progress by making these texts a) artificially overpriced and b) released in such rapid succession youj can't return them to get some of your 'investment' back

So, kudos to the author(s) for releasing this book in such a way. Maybe the overclockers will learn a trick or two :D

(just HAD to bitch about the state of college texts. forgive me..)

Why this won't be a likely medium anytime soon.... (0, Flamebait)

digid (259751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099157)

Great ideas that lead to bigger and better things never get there when people are at risk of losing their big paychecks. Some guy is a millionaire because he owns a publishing company that can sell textbooks at $100+ a pop. He's not gonna sit there and watch his annual income go down the toilet. Same thing with the oil, alcohol, medical, computer industry etc...

...and third! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099170)

> First, in electronic format, textbooks can be
> continually corrected and updated...Second,
> free textbooks hold the potential for
> fundamentally altering the economics of higher
> education... ...and third, hard working people who struggle to pay college tuition, please continue paying outrageous taxes and tuitions to keep me in my 6000 square foot house. We could offset it by diverting profits back into the university, but that would be useful.

Re:...and third! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099179)

It would be nice if Slashdot had an edit button so that when poorly programmed software that is "PLAIN OLD TEXT" chops out carriage returns, you could go in to fix it. But not.

Alternative to buying books. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099178)

For the last year I have tried to only study without buying any course related books, only the extra material made for the course. The books that I need to read, I read at university's libraries and I found that it's easier to concentrate on studying when there aren't things to be disturbed of. Also I find it a little ridiculous to buy a huge book of hundreds of pages that usually doesn't have any use after the course. That way I also can find books worth buying that have their uses after the course (like general purpose books about algorithms).

The Engines of Our Ingenuity (3, Informative)

Brent Nordquist (11533) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099184)

John Lienhard (the U. of Houston one) is the host of "The Engines of Our Ingenuity" [uh.edu] radio program. If you haven't heard any of these, get the transcripts or see if the program is on in your area. I've always found them excellent.

The Academic System (5, Informative)

sumo61 (778274) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099195)

As a new Assistant Professor at a U.S. institution, I am required to perform Teaching, Research, Service, and publish scholarly publications in PEER REVIEWED journals, etc. If this is not done satisfactorily, I will be released within several years. In order for the writing of textbooks to contribute to my retention, the 'system' requires publication through a 'major' commercial publisher in your field of knowledge. This is a major reason, IMHO, that we do not see more offerings like the subject of this article. Most professors are lucky to make 10% profit on their text publishing and my discussions in this matter with the publishing houses reveals their near-future plans to offer electronic texts online...on a chapter-by-chapter basis. This would allow instructors to assemble their own 'custom assembled' texts for courses.

The Open Univercity (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099198)

The OU on some courses make the course texts available as pdf files and these have less errata in them than the printed copys.

However this compliments the paper copies rather than replaces them.

In reader you can search for key words which is invaluble whem working on TMA questions as a few seconds searching takes you to a relevent section but then I open the printed book and use that to work from.

A real book allows you to highlight key sections make notes in the margin.

The E-book also means I can work anywhere I have internet access. perhaps if i had two monitors I could put the ebook on one and work on the other

I can work with 2 computers but as many of us know its easy to type into the wrong keyboard.

having the E-book is a great help out of 3 courses I do, only 1 gives the oportunity to get the E-Book.

Outside the OU Longman does an electronic version of its dictionary on cdrom that comes with the paper copy and this again is perhaps more useful than the paper copy although not everything is included from the paper copy cross referencing is a lot simpler.

The EBook form is a definate bonus longmans dictionary is copy protected so they do not lose sales and I wish more publishers would follow their lead.

Right now I have a book on order from penguin that is taking forever to arrive. since I have already placed my order for the paper copy perhaps they could make an E Copy available for download. print on demand still means a wait of at least 4 weeks :(

Re:The Open University (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099356)

It's a pity that the OU don't teach spelling.

(And yes, I am an OU student, thanks for asking.)

good idea ? (2, Insightful)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099212)

Lets take calculus, which has not reallly changed in, say , 200 years... I could buy a nice, acid free paper reprint, which will last for years without batteries for a few dollars from dover, or I could spend 100s of $$ to have something which only works out of the rain, in the right light.... This is an example of not focusing on the problem. The problem is not the delivery technology (print vs online), or the need for updating on a 5 yr cycle (does heat transfer really change that much ?). The problem is the (a) the greed inspired by our capitlist system, which winds up screwing the students, and (b) the complicity of professors, educators and boards of education, which in many states mandate texts. ... To restate the point, if you ask, not is it neat technology, but how would I best serve the students. I think that a co-operative, nonprofit publisher, organized over the net with cvs like software, putting out nice high quality texts on acid free paper, would be a better solution for high school and entry college texts. Even in fast moving fields ( I am familiar with molecular biology, genomics and genetics) most of what gets taught is old; you only need a small handout each year for updating. Even on a strict environmental basis, if only 10% of the "free" heat transfer texts get printed out, is that a plus, considering that home printers are probably environmental disasters, compared to commercial plants ?

Re:good idea ? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099234)

> Lets take calculus, which has not reallly changed in, say , 200 years...

BULLSHIT!

The calculus book I used in college 15 years ago was already the 3rd edition, and has had several more since.

They wouldn't be like, screwing us over by forcing the purchasing of new books every few years by aborting the used book market, would they?

Thumbs up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099227)

Great initiative. Although I have no problems acquiring text books for a *decent* price. Basically, this is not a problem of the authors or the buying public, but the greed of publishers who focus on profit only and do not really care about distrubuting knowledge. Therefore I say, great initiative!

xpdf (1)

Maimun (631984) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099228)

For some reason, acroread 5.* segfaults of RedHat 9.0. And acroread 4.* is not good for this texbook as they warn. But xpdf works fine -- that's how I read it now.

Why not rent books? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099233)

I went to one of the University of Wisconsin schools and the University rented all of the books to us as part as our students fees. (which were the same if not lower than most other schools) If you really wanted to own the books you could buy them back for less than $5 a piece. They normally didn't have the most recent editions avalible to buy, but with engineering the equations don't change so it doesn't really matter. My point is I will never need to look at at book from my liberal arts classes ever again so why should I pay over $50 for it?

Can't argue with free (or can you?!) (1)

bobbis.u (703273) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099244)

Much better value than the original [amazon.com] price.

Has anyone used this text book before? It is all very well giving away books for free, but if they aren't that good anyway, you still have to buy another one. When I have a spare moment I will try to look through the book more carefully, but from a cursory glance, it looks good so far.

Open mind (1)

Maljin Jolt (746064) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099245)

Open technology, open culture, open society. These are necessities for freedom.

There are no digital rights, only digital slavery.

Re:Open mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099361)

Whereas "open asshole" is a really good insult in Danish.

free (of hangovers) stuff lightens load (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099247)


strange brew [kombucha.org] , that's good for you.

what five year cycle? (1)

theycallmeB (606963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099253)

On my campus, the Statics 1 class has gone through three different textbooks in as many years (and stress = young's modulus * strain hasn't changed a whole lot in that time). Many other textbooks also seem to rotate editions every 2-2.5 years except for those few books you really want to keep.

I wish these gentlemen the best of luck with this and certaintly hope that the faculty in my department will give it a look. My heat transfer book was not terribly good, cost too much and had no resale value (so I kept it). This e-text certainly wins in one regard.

no fun (1)

rozz (766975) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099254)

no funny comment for this story! ... one more proof that engineering is dull and boring

See The Website www.uh.edu/engines !!! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9099289)

These same people produce a wonderful website called How Inventive Minds Work. A beautiful and thoughful website. See www.uh.edu/engines. !!! plus you an downlaod the textbook from there.

Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! (1)

Phidoux (705500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099313)

Thank you John H Lienhard V and John H Lienhard IV.

Having lived in Africa all my life I know how prohibitively expensive education can be for so many people in poorer countries. It is truly uplifting to read about the gift you have given and I truly hope that you have set an example for many others. Thank you!

More info on MIT's Intermediate Heat XFer Course (2, Informative)

Xoo (178947) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099327)

Lienhard's course is available on OpenCourseWare as well, to go along with the posted Heat Transfer textbook. It's a very thorough read for an intermediate-level class, happy learning :-) Here's the link [mit.edu]

Nifty idea. (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099355)

Hope they keep printed copies though incase something ever happens to computers.

Even better... (2, Interesting)

dysprosia (661648) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099366)

How about open, realtime editing, creation, correcting, and updating of free, GFDL'd textbooks? It's already here: check out wikibooks [wikibooks.org] .

Should be easy to bust this Racket (1)

snatchitup (466222) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099394)

I remember text books in College. What a racket!

1. Write Text Book (introduced with typo errors).

2. Get Professor to force students to buy.

3. Write new Text Book (same as old, but with some typos fixed, and some new ones introduced.

4. Next semester, Get Professor to force students to buy newer improved version.

5. Go back to step 3.

------
If I were in college today, I would be outraged if I were required to buy a single text book.

Everything is on the net.

five year cyle? (1)

illtron (722358) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099424)

A five year cycle? Seems to me that they never had much trouble putting out new editions of most of the expensive textbooks every year or two when I was in college, and I only finished two years ago. I swear I saw at least three or four different covers on those damn massive Biology and Calculus textbooks that got progressively more expensive every freakin' year. Good thing I didn't have to buy them. I see no excuse why any college shouldn't start using this and other similar online texts for the fall semester. If it's good enough for MIT...

What about editorial review? (1)

Wormholio (729552) | more than 10 years ago | (#9099460)

On the whole I think this is a good idea. I just looked at textbooks for a course I'll be teaching next fall and they range from $109 to $136 for a book we will use for only one semester. Textbook prices are way too high. On top of that publishers are releasing new editions of some books more quickly, forcing us to change to the newer edition (or switch to a different publisher) more often, and making previous editions "obsolete" when they are just fine.

But there are a few things that the publishers do provide that contribute to the quality of the book. Publishers can take care of layout, complicated drawings and photos, photo copyright permissions, and lots of other mundane production issues. More importantly, they will send out draft copies of new texts, new editions, or chapters of new editions to other professors in the field to get feedback and to provide quality control.

There may be tools which help self-published authors take care of formatting and layout, and you may not need to use all those pictures (or you can make your own). But if this is to succeed as a way to publish quality textbooks some mechanism of "peer review" is needed. That might end up being word of mouth, or there might have to be some kind of stamp of approval from some group people respect. Or some new mechanism we haven't figured out yet.

But I do think it's an interesting idea, and I hope it works. Years ago, before the web, I had thought about getting together some notes on quantum field theory and putting them out for anonymous FTP, without my name on them, as the "anonymous Field Theory Primer" :-)

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