Book Business Extra Q&A -- Freeload Press CEO Talks About His Mission to Offer Students Free, Downloadable Textbooks
Tom Doran, the CEO and founder of Freeload Press, a small Minnesota startup looking to challenge the way the book industry sells textbooks, wants to help college students when it comes to paying for their course texts. By generating revenue from the advertising that will be featured on the Web site and in its textbooks, Freeload is able to offer the books for free download on its Web site or as lower-priced texts with advertising. The company plans to offer 100 free titles this fall.
Book Business EXTRA! -- What, in your opinion, has led us to where we’re at now where so much attention is being placed on the price of college textbooks and alternative avenues of obtaining text material?
Tom Doran -- Increase in tuition. Increase in student fees. Increase in textbook prices... Decrease in student aid.
EXTRA! -- As students gear up for the fall semester, how many textbooks that were downloaded from Freeload Press are we going to be seeing in the lecture halls and classrooms out there?
Doran -- We don’t know. We’ve had over a million hits to the Web site in last few weeks. Many students are downloading textbooks independent of instructor assignments. Our Spring ‘06 list of books that was available for instructor consideration for Fall ‘06 use, will be used in over 125 courses. And that was our beta list--which featured only four textbooks and eight study aids. After Labor Day there will be over 100 e-textbooks and e-study aids available for free downloads. Once those books have been considered for course adoption by instructors, we expect a quarter million downloads--which is only one percent of the course markets we are in.
EXTRA! -- You’ve received quite a lot of national press recently. What response from students, potential advertisers, etc. have you received from the exposure on TV and print?