Note: Originally posted on 24 January 2005.
Towards the end of his Netspeak column in today’s Hindu, J. Murali points to the Internet Text Archive, “an excellent web location that hosts links to several free open source textbook digitizing [or] hosting projects that include Project Gutenberg, Children’s Library, Million Books Project and Open Source Books”. It is probably worth a look.
If you look around on the web, you will find quite a few books whose authors (and in some cases, publishers too) have chosen to offer them for free. Among the publishers, the following are noteworthy:
- Open Book project of O’Reilly, a well known publisher in the fields of programming and software development
- eScholarship program of the California Digital Library, one of the University of California libraries. Some of the books in CDL are open for public; check out this subject list to see if there is anything of interest to you.
Then there are books that live both in shelves and in hard disks. Sure, some of them are quite specialized (with a potential readership of, say, a few hundreds); but, there are a few others which are at the undergraduate or equivalent level in popular subjects (software development!); Examples of the latter include:
- Bruce Eckel: Thinking in C++
- Bruce Eckel: Thinking in Java
- Gerald Jay Sussman and Jack Wisdom: Structure and Interpretation of Classical Mechanics
- Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman and Julie Sussman: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
I am not sure about the others, but I do know that the first two are very popular: they are still in print, you can buy them in shops, and apparently, many people do! In fact, Eckel loves this publishing model, and says, “All of my future books will be electronically published on my site first, and will stay on the site”.
There are still a few other books which live almost entirely in the electronic world; for example, The Temple of Quantum Computing is an introductory book that its author has described as quantum computing for dummies.
Is there a good reason why there are not many online books (available either for free or for a reasonably small price) in materials science and engineering? I found two online texts in Chemistry: Dynamic Textbook of Physical Chemistry and Concepts in Chemistry. I listed them in my Thermodynamics course website.
It is entirely possible that there are more such books that are available online, and are useful for students of materials science and engineering. If you know of any, do please send me its URL, and let us start compiling a list here!
Update (25 Jan 2005): The process of building up this list begins here! Here we go:
- Harry Bhadeshia: Bainite in Steels
- Harry Bhadeshia: Worked Examples in the Geometry of Crystals
- Edgar Bain: Alloying Elements in Steel (Harry Bhadeshia has produced this electronic version with permission from ASM International, and hosts it on his website)
- Kaushik Bhattacharya: Theory of Martensitic Microstructure and the Shape-Memory Effect
- John A. Venables: Lecture notes on “Surfaces and Thin Films” (Their near-completeness and organization should make these notes a ‘book’, and indeed, they form the basis for a dead-tree version from the Cambridge University Press)
If you know more such online texts, bring’em on!