Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ad subsidized college textbooks

When I was in college, there were two things that were guarenteed to send steam pouring out of my ears. The first was professors who required subscriptions to the New York Times but then never used them in class. The second was buying textbooks that the professor then used once or never at all. Those books were a waste of funds, because if you had buy it new, you were only going to get pennies on the dollar back for it, even if the cover had never been cracked. That could be a thing of the past for future college students, though:

Textbook prices are soaring into the hundreds of dollars, but in some courses this fall, students won't pay a dime. The catch: Their textbooks will have ads for companies including FedEx Kinko's and Pura Vida coffee.
Now, a small Minnesota startup is trying to shake up the status quo in the $6 billion college textbook industry. Freeload Press will offer more than 100 titles this fall - mostly for business courses - completely free. Students, or anyone else who fills out a five-minute survey, can download a PDF file of the book, which they can store on their hard drive and print.

If I know college students as well as I think I do, then I can tell you who is really behind this idea: Big Beer.

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