In the grand tradition of Sports Illustrated's long running Apocalypse watch, I give you this week's sign that the apocalypse is upon us: The textbook publisher Freeload Press is offering free college and graduate school textbooks that are laced with keyed advertisements.
"Textbook prices are soaring into the hundreds of dollars, but for some courses this fall, students won't pay a dime. The catch: Their textbooks will have ads for companies including FedEx Kinko's and Pura Vida coffee. A small Minnesota startup called Freeload Press will offer more than 100 titles this fall -- mostly for business courses -- free of charge. Students, or anyone else who fills out a five-minute survey, can download a PDF file of the book and store it on their hard drive to print."But what if a University is worried about distracting or inappropriate ads? Have no fear:
"Freeload's ads won't be distracting, will be placed at natural breaks in the material and won't push products such as alcohol or tobacco. Schools with other concerns could customize their standards. For instance, Brigham Young University, founded by Mormons in Utah, could nix ads for caffeine products."Gotta' love the incredibly random BYU plug in Washington Times, eh? So, what does a "non-distracting" advertisement look like you ask?
How's that for spicing up your homework? I guess if the ad pages are numbered, they might help you feel like you are making progress on your reading by giving you a few pages to skip. Honestly though, outside of giving you the munchies in class, I don't see that many drawbacks. But then again, I'm part of the Google generation that is selling my soul to advertisers. Considering the cost of most of my textbooks (even those bought used), I'll be the first to admit that I'd take the Freeload Press up on its ad-laden copies if they offered any textbooks I needed... just so long as they placed no ads for caffeinated products of course (err... except maybe Mountain Dew).