Matt Boelkins on free open source textbooks

In August 2009, the MAA published the article The House That Calculus Built (James Stewart and the House That Calculus Built – Mathematical …) regarding the amazing manse that James Stewart constructed using the fortune earned from his excellent calculus texts.  When I read the article, I experienced a mix of feelings, but mostly I felt like the article was mistitled:  The House that Calculus Students Paid For.

There are, of course, good reasons that Stewart has made (and continues to make) so much money from his texts.  They’re very well done.  The writing is crisp; the problems interesting; and there are few to no errors.  He also has multiple versions with different styles and perspectives (and, of course, the requisite multiple editions of each).   It makes sense that a large number of college faculty have elected to use his books.

Continue reading