Free textbooks

Steven Krause’s new freshman composition textbook, “The Process of Research Writing,” is a real bargain for his students: It’s free.

Krause, a professor of English at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., will talk about the trend toward open-source academic publishing during a 2:45-4 p.m. session on Friday, June 19, in room 106 of Wellman Hall at UC Davis. The panel is part of Computers & Writing 2009, a three-day conference of about 250 U.S. and international writing researchers and instructors. The conference is sponsored by the University Writing Program at UC Davis.

“It seems inevitable to me that most textbooks are going to be available in some electronic form,” says Krause, whose talk is titled “Fast, Free, and On the ‘Net: The Story of a Self-Published Textbook.”

The trend raises thorny questions, including how authors will be compensated for their time and how open-source publications will be regarded in the academic tenure process.

Other speakers during the session:

  • Nick Carbone, a new media consultant at Bedford/St. Martin’s, a leading college textbook publisher. Carbone’s talk is titled “How College Textbook Publishers Will Thrive in Ubiquity: Or Die Trying.”

  • Matt Barton, an assistant professor of English at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn. Barton will talk about textbook publishing in wiki format — an option that not only makes textbooks free, but allows students and others to edit and contribute to them.

A complete schedule of presentations at Computers & Writing 2009 is available at

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