As the fall semester approaches, the usual talk about the high price of textbooks is a common conversation among many college students. A new approach for combating the problem of paying for expensive books is being offered by a new startup company, Freeload Press.
The small St. Paul, Minn. publisher offers free textbook downloads, mostly math and business books, with one catch-the e-books contain advertisements for businesses like Pura Vida Coffee, FedEx Kinko’s and College Recruiter.com.
Howard Quinlan, chief operating officer at Freeload Press, said there are a number of California colleges and students that have become involved with his company.
“Some of our materials are specifically required at places like Cal State Poly Pomona, College of San Mateo, Mount San Jacinto and University of the Pacific.”
Some students at Cal State Long Beach are skeptical, like Don Pham, a liberal studies major whose four books for a math class total $172.
“Well it’s a dot com and I don’t want my computer getting crashed downloading from the site.”
Philip Chong, associate dean for the College of Business, said it is a good idea. “Having additional resources can only benefit students, I wish there were free downloads when I was going to school, having more sources makes the publishing industry more competitive.”
Chong did admit there could be problems, like limited amount of pages or chapters that can be downloaded at one time. “It’s still a baby industry and those problems will eventually be resolved. I’ve used e-books in some of my classes.”
Rick Munger, a senior economics major said he likes hard cover books and likes to keep them for future reference.
“Reading off a computer screen drives me up a wall, and I can’t see printing 300 or 400 hundred pages of text.”
Quinlan said for students who prefer hard cover books, there is still a 75 to 80 percent savings when they purchase books through the Freeload Press Bookstore.
Chong said that his department has to have trust in professors to pick their own material for teaching classes, with some guidance.
“Professors have a lot of power over their classes and the textbooks they use, so even though there might be free downloads, the professors don’t necessarily have to use them.”
Munger said that is part of the problem.
“Some professors use their own book to teach classes and make slight revisions from semester to semester so students have to buy the new edition, can’t sell the old one and of course the professors get a cut from the publisher.”
Quinlan said hundreds of California college students have registered at the Freeload Press Bookstore, including about 50 from CSULB. There is no agreement with the CSULB or its professors but Quinlan said many students use the website for additional resources. He said the company plans to add 250,000 titles and study guides next year.
Fred Neely, director of bookstore services at CSULB said until recently he was unfamiliar with Freeload Press. “The staff and I are not aware of faculty directing students to Freeload Press, this does not mean that faculty are not using this option, we are just unaware of it if they are.”