The Remixable Textbook

This morn­ing, Macmil­lan announced a new kind of text­book — a remix­able elec­tron­ic text­book that will give pro­fes­sors, accord­ing the New York Times, the abil­i­ty “to reor­ga­nize or delete chap­ters; upload course syl­labus­es, notes, videos, pic­tures and graphs; and per­haps most notably, rewrite or delete indi­vid­ual para­graphs, equa­tions or illus­tra­tions.” Essen­tial­ly, Macmil­lan pro­vides the core text, and then pro­fes­sors get to cus­tomize the book to their lik­ing. This remix­ing is a def­i­nite plus. But what’s even bet­ter? This new line of text­book, dubbed Dynam­ic­Books, will reduce costs for stu­dents, bring­ing a book tra­di­tion­al­ly priced at $150 down to a much san­er $47. Per­fect for the lean years. For more details, read this longer piece in Pub­lish­ers Week­ly.

See our young and grow­ing col­lec­tion of Free Text­books.

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Comments (4)
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  • Avi Burstein says:

    Flat World Knowl­edge already does this, with an even bet­ter mod­el:

  • Honam Choi says:

    Need one sin­gle knowl­edge pro­vid­ing por­tal, since there a lot of such sites scat­tered on the inter­net.

  • Lee Graham says:

    From my under­stand­ing, all text­books are peer reviewed for accu­ra­cy.

    What hap­pen to the val­ue of the peer review process when the text­book is mod­i­fied by a pro­fes­sor who does­n’t seem to share the same views as the orig­i­nal author?

    Sce­nario: What if an author writes a text­book on biol­o­gy and in that text­book he states we evolved from apes. Then a prof comes in and does­n’t agree with the author on a cou­ple of points and he mod­i­fies the text to read we evolved from pri­mor­dial soup, not apes. Or, what if the prof changes to be some­thing com­plete­ly out there, such as we evolved from hot air bal­loons.

    The lat­ter exam­ple is a bit far fetched I know, but at any rate, does­n’t this insult the orig­i­nal authors’ work? Why would an author want to write a text­book when some pro­fes­sor who does­n’t know Jack from Jill or agree with some of the authors con­tent decides to edit his text and make it inac­cu­rate?

    I see some val­ue in what MacMil­lian is doing, but I want to play the dev­il’s advo­cate and get some feed­back on this sce­nario.

  • Phil says:

    These are not open text­books. Also, they don’t dis­trib­ute in print.

    Anoth­er ques­tion I would have is “how long is the book avail­able to the stu­dent?” Is it FREE, in any con­text?

    Heck, you can’t even link to any one of their books.

    Looks like a “pre­tend” open text­book site that’s a bas­tardiza­tion of Cours­eS­mart.

    From their web­site: “If you see an oppor­tu­ni­ty to edit con­tent in a text, you can sub­mit your re-writ­ten con­tent to the Dynam­ic­Books edi­to­r­i­al board to con­sid­er for future revi­sions.” What’s THAT all about? Why can’t I edit freely? Thus, a BASIC tenet of open — remix­able, includ­ing freely editable, is not avail­able. These are not open text­books, peri­od.

    Also, it looks like Dynam­ic­Books they ripped of the col­or scheme and even the link cat­e­gories from Flat World Knowl­edge. Go check those guys out at
    they’re doing it right.

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