Did you know that there’s thousands of free college textbooks available online? Textbooks on everything from classical literature to nanotechnology are available for students who know where to look.
Many of the scholars, educators and professionals who have been writing university-level textbooks for years are now self-publishing their works online. Many are working with their students and other subject matter experts to create collaborative texts that are more current, more complete and more accessible than any traditional textbook could ever hope to be.
Web technologies have turned plain, boring charts into interactive experiences where students can change the data and actually see how that impacts the results. Students learning about animals living on the other side of the world can watch live video of the animals in their native habitats. Students can access glossaries that provide more in-depth explanations of terms than can often be found within the main text of pre-printed books.
What makes all of this even more exciting is that many of the authors are offering their knowledge and the fruits of their labors to students for free.
What Makes The Free Textbook List Different?
I began working on the list around 2006. At that time, I had launched a site with information on online degree programs. To make the site more useful, I added a section that identified free online textbooks. The degree portion of the site degraded into a news aggregator posting announcements of new online programs and other open learning offerings. It was boring with a capital “B”.
In 2015, I decided to start over. Dump what didn’t work and expand what was working. The textbook list on the original site had helped thousands of students with their studies. FreeTextbookList.com would become its new home.
My goal was never to offer the largest list of free online textbooks. For one, I’m the only one working on the list. For two, many of the larger lists include journal articles, white papers and classroom notes that aren’t much more than bullet lists on PowerPoint slides. And, thirdly, I only know English and would be limiting my list to materials that offered an English version.
For the most part, nothing listed requires membership, registration or some other form of payment to view – a few items require free Google, Yahoo! or Apple accounts. My list also does not include items being advertised by publishers as being free when all they offer are short briefs and links to where the textbook could be purchased or are only free to certain students. Ideally, everything included here will be accessible, without payment, by anyone.
Search Inside Each Book
The Free Textbook List offers something most competing sites do not – a complete table of contents for each book or resource included.
Students can utilize this site’s search functionality to find textbooks that they know will include a specific topic that they hope to learn more about – a great tool for students needing a little help with a current assignment or having trouble understanding their assigned textbook.
For example, someone studying Linear Algebra might need some help with Eigenvalues. Not all of the Linear Algebra textbooks have included that topic in their table of contents and therefore may not cover it in any depth. However, searching for “Eigenvalues” here on The Free Online Textbook List also suggests students can find help from several linear algebra books, a physics book, a personality psychology textbook and an advanced mathematics Analysis textbook.