Arnold Kling  

Free Online Textbook

Reply to Clark... Bryan's Cover Story in Reas...

Timothy Taylor, one of my favorite economists, has a textbook that you can read for free, provided you are willing to put up with registering at the site and having some of the pages be ads. I thought that the hassle was minimal. Go to this web site to register, then search for Taylor's economics principles textbook.

It appears to be a fairly standard, middle-of-the road text. I only looked at the table of contents and a few chapters.

My guess is that for a free online reference, the best thing might be something like the concise encyclopedia of economics, where you can look up terms as you need them. But the CEE does not have the diagrams that you can find in textbooks. For those, an online textbook like Taylor's might be handy.

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CATEGORIES: Economic Education

COMMENTS (6 to date)
tim writes:

Some criticisms:

The site doesn't follow basic common standards for protecting logins/passwords which makes me doubt it statements about security in the privacy statement.

The privacy statement is in itself a pdf file which is completely lame.

And you don't get the book "for free". You only get a license for the book per "the license" you have to agree to when signing up.

The one book I went after is broken out into chapters. So you have to spend some time downloading two chapters at a time. And when you get it? Three pages of adverts in a nine page chapter.

At least they were smart enough to outsource the purchasing of the books through paypal.

mgroves writes:

Can I check the teeth on this gift horse?

Also, "fairly standard, middle-of-the road text"? Such flattery! With a resounding endorsement like that, I nearly tripped over my mouse trying to get to his book.

David N. Welton writes:

How about this one:

It seems pretty good to me, but then again, I wouldn't know the difference between a good one and a bad one. Even better, it's under an "open source" style license.

Jaap Weel writes:

I actually like Preston McAfee's Introduction to Economic Analysis, which David mentions, for its lack of fluff, but it is fairly technical. Two freely available books that seem to focus more on building economic intuition and less on technical skill are David Friedman's Price Theory: an Intermediate Text and Deirdre McCloskey's The Applied Theory of Price. (The book titles in this comment are links.)

Jaap Weel writes:

Oh, and by the way, I agree with David Welton that the free license is very important.

Making teaching materials freely available on your own web site is only the first step in improving access to teaching materials. By putting the materials under a free license, you enable other people to build on them and distribute them in ways that they see fit without having to ask permission. That way, you can potentially reach a much larger audience.

Reaching a larger audience, at the expense of some control over how the material gets presented, should be an especially attractive thing to do for people like Friedman and McCloskey, who are probably not making a lot of money from their writings anyway but who might want to see their somewhat nonstandard ideas spread more widely.

Tom Crispin writes:

Dr Taylor also has some excellent courses available from The Teaching Company:

Sadly, none of them are currently on sale - if you can wait the sale prices are about 2/3 off.

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