Textbook Torrents Permanently Offline
Textbook Torrents is using BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, to let students download textbooks for free. The site not only allows Torrents for those open textbooks but allows users to scan and upload other textbooks.
Scan as many of your other textbooks as you can, and put them up here for others to benefit from. There aren’t very many scanned texts out there, so let’s change that.
A basic rule of thumb to determine if something is acceptable: if you can find it in the courses section of your local university bookstore, it’s fair game.
Sites like Textbook Torrents are reacting to the increasingly high cost of textbooks. According to a 2004 CALPIRG study, the average textbook costs $102 and students spent almost $900 a school year on textbooks. Many believe these prices are artificially high, creating windfall profit centers for publishers on the backs of students who essentially must purchase these textbooks.
The used textbook marketplace has flourished because of these high prices, though the shelf life of a textbook seems to be decreasing as publishers crank out updates and editions on a more regular basis. The Amazon Kindle is also delivering textbooks via digital download.
It’s no surprise that students are using new technology to defray the cost of their education. Obviously the textbook landscape would collapse if the majority of students sourced their textbooks via Torrents – authors need to be compensated, publishers need to run a business.
But publishers shouldn’t squawk too much about these developments. High textbook prices were the accelerant to the flux in the textbook market. Now they’re scrambling to protect their cash cow in the encroaching digital age.
Textbook Torrents Update (July 14, 2008 – 2:00pm)
As noted by readers, the textbooktorrents.com website is currently offline. The error data (“not found on this server”) makes me believe that the owner took it down or that the host (DreamHost) took it down. Please note that Google still has pages from textbooktorrents.com in their index. Google hasn’t banned the site, it’s simply not ranking high because there’s no longer any relevant content on these pages.
I’m guessing this disappearing act is due to legal pressure brought by publishers. The domain doesn’t expire until January 2011. Perhaps textbooktorrents.com will come back when a new host is secured … or not if the publisher pressure was simply too much to handle.
Textbook Torrents Update (July 14, 2008 – 2:57pm)
I emailed DreamHost in what I thought would be a vain attempt to gain some information on the Textbook Torrents situation. To my pleasant surprise, DreamHost responded to my inquiry within the hour. Below is the text of that email:
We received very long DMCA takedown notices from publishers of the content in question. The site was further closed down due to violations of our Terms of Service due to it’s illegal facilitation of the distribution of copyrighted content without the copyright owners consent.
While I sympathize with students and the cost of textbooks, you can’t fault DreamHost for pulling the plug. Based on the information provided above, I’d be surprised if any major US host would touch Textbook Torrents at this point.
Textbook Torrents Update (July 30, 2008 – 8:22am)
Textbooktorrents.com is still down as we hit the height of textbook season. I’ll continue to look for signs of life and encourage anyone with information to comment or contact me directly. In the interim, students can check out my list of other free textbook sites.
Textbook Torrent Update (July 30, 2008 – 9:02am)
Thank you to xGeNeSisx who tipped us off that Textbook Torrents is up and running but at a different address: http://184.108.40.206/
Textbook Torrent Update (October 13, 2008 – 5:31pm)
Textbook Torrents is now permanently offline. Following is the farewell text:
Textbook Torrents is now permanently offline.
There are a number of reasons for this, but I would be lying if I claimed that the concern of legal action wasn’t a major factor in the decision. However, it was by no means the only reason. Upkeep of a site this size is a lot of work, increasingly so as time progressed. What’s more, two years is a long time to be running a site of this nature.
I am at heart an activist, a crusader for the underdog. When I see something that I believe is wrong, I do what I can to fix it, if only in some small way. I believe this is what Textbook Torrents has stood for, and what we have done. The amount of attention that we have garnered would not have been possible by simply running around with a sandwich board and shouting slogans. We have opened people’s eyes, and gotten them talking. At its true purpose, the site has been successful beyond my wildest dreams.
What we have started here does not stop with one site. It is real, and it is now up to you to continue. Take what you have learned and experienced here and go forth. If you’re able, start new sites. Find new ways to open new eyes. Keep the revolution going. It is not a revolution of one, not even of eight staff members: it is a revolution of 100,000. We have done nothing here but provide you with a venue to voice your discontent, and the ideological sentiment that we all share need not end with Textbook Torrents. Indeed, it must live on.
For my part, I have other causes that need fighting for. There are all kinds of ways to fight all kinds of battles, and it is unlikely that I will find myself running a BitTorrent tracker again. I will step back from this and hope that you will carry on in our place.
Thanks for everything, folks. Thanks for making Textbook Torrents everything that it was, and for adding your voices to mine. Now it’s your turn.
(Former) Textbook Torrents administrator