Professors turn to Public Domain and Open Source Textbooks

More press coverage over students and professors trying to find alternatives to exorbitantly priced textbooks.  Ours will be a standard $50.  Thankfully not in the $150-$200 range that many “proper” textbooks hit.  From Ars Technica:

In 2006, Rice experimented with a wiki for his Introduction to Political Science class. In addition to online articles, the wiki links to books at Project Gutenberg for older texts. This kept the students’ reading list to below $40, an important consideration when tuition seems to go up every year. Students could also collaborate, posting class notes and helping to develop the course.

Update: R. Preston McAfee speaks about this on On The Media.   Great interview.

Creative Commons upheld in US Court

Lessig writes on this major ruling.

In non-technical terms, the Court has held that free licenses such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work. When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you’re simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license.

Full post from Lessig.org here

Napstering textbooks

NYTimes reports on textbook piracy. Textbooks are being scanned and torrented on The Pirate Bay, et all.  Scanning the entirety of a text book seems like a lot of work, but I guess it pays off:

Time flies, however, if you’re having a good time plotting righteous revenge, and students seem angrier than ever before about the price of textbooks. More students are choosing used books over new; sales of a new edition plunge as soon as used copies are available, in the semester following introduction; and publishers raise prices and shorten intervals between revisions to try to recoup the loss of revenue — and the demand for used books goes up all the more.

So the Napster moment is coming for print publishers? I think they have a certain fear of this.  I think there is a willingness to try new things, but the problems is locking them down with DRM doesn’t work, and doesn’t make anyone happy.  I think this has a lot to do with why we were given a Creative Common license for Digital Foundations

Harper Collins: Gaimain giveaway a success

Harper Collins has analyzed the data, and concluded that their one month free access to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods had direct and measurable increase on sales.  They were only able to measure it among independent booksellers, as there was an alternate Gaiman promotion going on at the big box bookstores:

 The Browse Inside Full Access promotion of American Gods drove 85 thousand visitors to our site to view 3.8 Million pages of the book (an average of 46 pages per person). On average, visitors spent over 15 minutes reading the book.

The Indies [ie. independent booksellers — Neil] are the only sales channel where we have confidence that incremental sales were driven by this promotion. In the Bookscan data reported for Independents we see a marked increase in weekly sales across all of Neil’s books, not just American Gods during the time of the contest and promotion. Following the promotion, sales returned to pre-promotion levels.

Gaiman’s Journal for full post

Google Print: Author and Publisher disagree

Kottke reports on an author & publisher in dispute over Google Print.

To that end, she asked her publisher, Simon & Schuster, to put her book up on Google Print so it could be found, and they refused. Now they’re suing Google over Google Print, claiming copyright infringement. Meghann is not too happy with this development.

It is amazing to see the publishers *not* get it.  Every study shows that Google Print and Amazon’s Search Withing The Book increase sales.  And they benefit long tail authors.

Full Story

MiniBookExpo to get books to bloggers (in Canada)

Its only in Canada for the moment, but MiniBookExpo is a service to get books to bloggers for review.   Something we have thought about too.

 

The Rules

 

  • Claim It.

    * watch for a book you want
    * click through to claim it
    * make sure it’s not already claimed by someone else
    * leave a comment to claim it (max 2)

  • Get it.

    * we’ll confirm you claimed it in the comments.
    * then email you for your address
    * send me your address
    * Canada Post will bring you your book.

  • Read it.

    * can you really say anything if you haven’t read it?

  • Blog it.

    * Post something about the book within a month of getting it
    * include a link to the publisher and the author if possible
    * if you don’t have a blog, send me your review & I’ll post it here for you

Digital Foundations: First Sighting

Digital Foundations has shown up on the Pearson website.  Pearson is the parent company of Peachpit, which is the parent division of New Riders, which publishes the AIGA Design Press.  Its a mouthful.

Oh, yeah, we picked a cover!

Digital Foundations first sighting

Digital Foundations wiki is open for editing

The wiki, at wiki.Digital-Foundations.net is ready for editing. We have posted the table of contents and the first three chapters.  The chapters will be open for editing for two weeks. The plan is to post three chapters every two weeks.

You will need to create a user account and login (upper right hand corner of the page.)

We thank you in advance.

Which book cover design do you like best?

Here are the three first round sketches. Which one do you like best? Which one would you pick up in the bookstore? Which one would you assign in your class? Vote below, post comments to the post, or email additional feedback to authors AT digital-foundations DOT net.

If you are really hardcore, we have attached the Illustrator Files in a .zip file here.

Which book cover design do you like best?

  • #2 Blocks (33%, 11 Votes)
  • #1 lowercase “f” (30%, 10 Votes)
  • #3 All Text (21%, 7 Votes)
  • #4 Tilted Rectangle (15%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 33

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In reverse alphabetical order

#1, lowercase “f”

Curly f - Digital Foundations Cover

#2 Blocks

Blocks - Digital Foundations Cover

#3, All Text

All Text - Digital Foundations Cover

#4 Tilted Rectangle

tilted rectangle

Which book cover design do you like best?

  • #2 Blocks (33%, 11 Votes)
  • #1 lowercase “f” (30%, 10 Votes)
  • #3 All Text (21%, 7 Votes)
  • #4 Tilted Rectangle (15%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 33

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Do we even have competition in the market?

Adobe CS3 All In One

by Golding/RaySam’s Teach Yourself SeriesDetails:

  • The book covers the same programs we do, and adds Adobe Acrobat (who uses that?)
  • Price: $34.99
  • There is no included CD-ROM
  • There are 16 chapters and an appendix, the reader has to get through 654 pages before reaching the index
  • It is printed in black and white, only
  • There are no inspirational or historic visual references (actually, there is no reference to any kind of history – I find this to be horribly scary)
  • The book actually seems to “sell the software” as there is a section that explains various Adobe packages (apparently, the Sams readers wouldn’t be able to figure out how to use the Adobe website)
  • Finally, I think it’s absolutely fine to judge these types of books by their covers – specifically, by their back covers. On the back cover, this book promotes its contents as such:”Design brochures” and “Develop an entire integrated ad campaign” are two of the (more interesting) bullets on the back cover. The book seems to be targeted towards amateurs who hope one day to be professionals. To these people I say, “Dear, dear amateurs, The Sams books will never make you professionals.” 

Adobe CS3 Bible

by Padova and Murdock (Wiley)

Details:

  • The book covers the same programs we do, and adds Adobe Acrobat and Version Cue
  • Price: $44.99
  • There is no included CD-ROM
  • There are 38 chapters, the reader has to get through 1235 pages before reaching the index
  • It is printed in black and white, only
  • There are no inspirational or historic visual references
  • On the back cover, 3 out of the 9 bullet points that sell the book detail what will be learned with the phrase “New Features In…” This is a book about new bells and whistles in the Creative Suite. This book is not about core software methodologies.

 Adobe CS3 Design Premium for Dummies

by Smith and Smith (Wiley)

Details:

  • The book covers the same programs we do, and adds Adobe Acrobat
  • Price: $34.99
  • There is no included CD-ROM
  • The reader has to get through 754 pages before reaching the index
  • It is printed in black and white, only
  • There are no inspirational or historic visual references
  • The book places InDesign as the first program to learn, before PhotoShop or Illustrator (just an interesting aside – who would ever teach InDesign FIRST?). This makes me wonder if the authors have ever actually created a printed publication from the perspective of a designer.
  • The book does use icons for side-margin extras as follows: Tip (an arrow hitting a target), Remember (finger with a bow tied to it), Warning (a bomb!), Technical Stuff (an angular shaped face of, what I think is supposed to be, a male, not female, geek), Integration (a puzzle – this is for instances where the CS3 packages integrate within the text, ie. Use the bridge to open a file in Illustrator.
  • On the back cover, this book promotes its contents with an area dedicated to bullet-pointing what the reader will learn how-to do. In the “how to” area, the word “use” and “work with” were listed 4 out of the 6 bullet points, and the words “understand” and “build” (in reference to websites) were used once. The words, “synthesize, demonstrate, inspire,” or “compose” were never used. The book is about production, not about synthesizing ideas and creating a foundation for a design practice.