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Free Digital Textbooks Funded Through Advertising

Bookboon.com, a company that makes its digital textbooks available free to college students, has taken the approach of funding its work by including advertising within the pages of the books. For example, Strategic Management, a 52-page book, includes advertising for master's level programs and job recruitment ads.

The books are available as free, downloadable PDFs. To access them, the student registers on the Bookboon Web site.

"We know the current pricing of textbooks is discouraging students from purchasing the mandatory reading, but we are changing that," said Thomas Buus Madsen, chief operations officer. "Our mission is to make it possible for students to go through university without having to spend a single dollar on textbooks, and we are already making a difference for many students."

The company targets its ads at specific groups of students. Engineering students, for example, will get ads from engineering companies doing recruiting.

Larry Walther, department head in the School of Business at Utah State University, has published multiple books through Bookboon to help his accounting students. "If they prefer having a hard copy, they can just print it out," he said, adding that most books required for accounting courses cost around $200. "This is one of the ways technology will lower the cost of educational materials."

The publisher said it currently offers 800 free textbooks.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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