That Hissing Sound? Textbook Bubble Is Deflating
Actually it's only the online version that's totally free, the other options are $35 for a printed black and white version, $90 for full color version, a print-it-yourself version for $25, and the e-book version for $25. Students can also purchase individual chapters at a reduced cost.
According to the Wikipedia entry for Flat World Knowledge, 2,000 colleges and 300,000 students have used its textbooks.
Bottom Line: It's hard to see how the traditional cartel-style textbook model can survive, and that giant hissing sound you might be hearing is the "college textbook bubble" starting to deflate..... After all, the U.S. textbook bubble makes the U.S. housing bubble seem almost insignificant by comparison, see the chart below: