I've got to be honest and say that a "free textbook" sounds a little too good to be true, but these web tools, as described in the New York Times article, "Don't Buy That Textbook, Download it Free" seem pretty interesting.
The article cites several websites that have jumped on this bandwagon, including an open source website called Connexions, which allows professionals, scholars and students to share and edit scholarly content on the web.
Publishers have caught on to this web-share phenomenon, particularly with the creation of CourseSmart, an online textbook resource endorsed by five major education textbook publishers. E-books are available across a wide range of courses and subjects, and the website advertises that students can save up to 50% off their semester textbook cost by signing up for the service.
On their website, CourseSmart provides student testimonials about the service. One student says, "By purchasing the eTextbook I got the book instantly and was able to complete my assignments. I enjoy using the CourseSmart eTextbook, because I don't have to carry the entire book around, I just print the chapters that are going to be covered during that semester; the cost of the eTextbook was in my budget, it was less expensive than going to the college bookstore and standing in the long lines. I recommend the Course Smart eTextbook."
It sounds like these services have great potential to serve students in numerous ways. Check out their websites for more information and save some money on textbooks today!