Free textbooks with ads inside them? Seems like a pretty good idea to me. Freeload Press, a Minnesota-based startup, has started to push the concept in the U.S., and they will start serving international students in September. The idea is dead simple: Students, or anyone else who fills out a five-minute survey, can download a PDF file of the book with ads inside it, which they can store on their hard drive and print.
When Jimbo Wales, founder of Wikipedia, around this time last year said his next project would be to offer complete free curriculum (in all languages) from Kindergarten through the University level, I thought his idea was simply great. However, Freeload’s model seems more practical and can achieve its goals faster. I think we still need Wales’ idea, in the long run, to provide totally free textbooks, but for the time being, Freeload would work much better.