My friend and colleague Robert Talbert recently pointed me to a big collection of articles over at the Chronicle that are focused on the many issues surrounding textbooks on college campuses. Lots of worthwhile reading there.
One article asks about the feasibility of any textbook remaining truly free, noting that perhaps state governments could play a positive supporting role, as appears to be happening in California. Another interviews a collection of students and shows a lot of insight regarding how students view “required” textbooks. Money quotes:
“In The Chronicle’s focus groups, students praised e-books for their instant availability, searchability, and portability. They also described taking advantage of freely available online lectures and materials.
“But others struggle with electronic learning materials. They report getting more easily distracted, or feeling frustrated at not being able to underline the text. Using an online book for one class, Eduardo C. Albano, 18, found he had to spend twice as much time to read it.”
Many good points to ponder in these articles and more. I’ll make one point: if you use Active Calculus, you can download the .pdf for free. And with any .pdf editing software (Preview for Mac, Adobe Professional, or iAnnotate for the iPad), you can mark up your copy all you like.