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Books Science

National Academies Release Over 4,000 Free Science Books 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the price-is-right dept.
Shipud writes "The National Academies Press are offering all their books for free in PDF format. These are all the publications of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council. Lots of great stuff there, and now for free."
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National Academies Release Over 4,000 Free Science Books

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  • Eg, looking for a math book and all I see is shit like "Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty"
    • by pieisgood (841871)

      There are repositories of math books on the net you can download. They have every level of math. From beginners algebra and calc all the way to differential geometry and graduate analysis texts. But are you really prepared to read something like Rudin on your own?

    • Agreed. It looks like these are all (or at least mostly) "think-tanky" fluff works for PHB and 'policy-makers'. Calling them "science books" seems to be overly generous.

      • Look at the NRC animal nutrition series. Very useful and definitely not for PHbs. I will be downloading "Nutrient Requirements of Horses".

        I don't think there is a volume on nutrient requirements of policy-makers, though. They just get whatever is in the public trough.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday June 04, 2011 @05:29PM (#36338230)
      Keep in mind that the NRC is charged with doing research for congress; hence, most of what they put out is related to policy issues that were being debated at the time when the study was made. That being said, you can get some insight into how congressmen might be thinking about our nation's policy issues by reading NRC reports.
      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        > Implying congressmen are capable of thinking
      • by DavoMan (759653)
        yeah exactly. the idea here isn't that we go 'yay we've got a whole lot of science books for free'... the idea here is that we go 'yay' because we can see the ins & outs of how science has been performed when influencing government decisions.
    • by hoytak (1148181)

      That's cause it's in the general "math, chemistry, and science" category which is full of books that apply to all three. You have to go to the specific categories to get the good stuff.

      • by hoytak (1148181)

        Err, make that "math, chemistry, and physics", which is even more broad.

        • by hoytak (1148181)

          Err, make that "less broad." I really shouldn't have had that last coffee; it just makes my submit button spontaneously pressable.

    • by formfeed (703859)

      Eg, looking for a math book and all I see is shit like "Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty"

      Does this have any numbers on how many /.ers sitting in mom's basement are male?

    • by ivi (126837)

      Sure one on Chem Lab safety & another on how to use & care for lab animals (& I've only been looking for 9 min's...)

  • Not exactly "free". (Score:5, Informative)

    by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex&project-retrograde,com> on Saturday June 04, 2011 @05:02PM (#36338082) Homepage

    This isn't "Free as in Freedom" it's "Free as in Promotional".

    FTFA:

    Printed books will continue to be available for purchase through the NAP website and traditional channels. The free PDFs are available exclusively from the NAP’s website, http://www.nap.edu/ [nap.edu], and remain subject to copyright laws. PDF versions exist for the vast majority of NAP books. Exceptions include some books that were published before the advent of PDFs; books from the Joseph Henry Press imprint; and in cases where contractually prohibited, such as reference books in the Nutrient Requirements of Domestic Animals series.

    So, you can download them to your computer, but you can't (legally) make a copy for your friend... This isn't the free as in "land of the free" that I grew up learning about... seems like a trap to me. "How did you know that without ever buying our book or downloading our PDF? You must be a sea faring rapist and murderous theif!"

    Let me know when it's released under a CC license, then I'll think about downloading it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Did you type that comment from a Lemote Yeeloong? If not, your BIOS is in shackles and you should be looked down upon the same way you look down upon others for downloading this material.

    • by BitterOak (537666)

      So, you can download them to your computer, but you can't (legally) make a copy for your friend...

      No, but you can point your friend to the website where he/she can download it, which is almost as good.

      But I have to echo what a previous poster has said: most of these books look useless to ordinary people. They don't seem to be textbooks so much as policy recommendations. Has anyone found any useful books in this collection?

      • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday June 04, 2011 @05:44PM (#36338280)
        At what point did knowing what recommendations are being made to congress become useless for the general public? Is the public supposed to just let the government do what it does, and never stop to take a look at what their congressmen are being told or what they are doing?
        • by shaitand (626655)

          "At what point did knowing what recommendations are being made to congress become useless for the general public?"

          Somewhere around the start. Since the general public has little or no real influence on the actions of congress but rather only influence how to spin their choices at election time there is no particular reason for the general public to pay any attention.

        • At what point did knowing what recommendations are being made to congress become useless for the general public?

          At the point when congress stopped giving two hoots what the public thinks and just going along with whoever suppplies the most hookers and cocaine.

      • by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Saturday June 04, 2011 @08:05PM (#36339080)

        I did. Lost Crops of Africa vol 1-3 and Lost Crops of the Incas. Informative, although definitely a narrow topic. When you think science books you think more like textbooks with broad overviews and lots of information, which these certainty are not. If you're deep into a specific area, some of these will be useful. If you're just some normal person looking to learn more about something,well, these aren't exactly Light and Matter. I found a number of things on genetic engineering next to them, but skimming them, these are scientific, and they're books, but I wouldn't exactly call them science books, more like reports on the state of the science and policy ideas & suggestions than anything. I can see how these would be useless to the average reader.

        • (With light parody of one of the texts)
          The Slashdot Community forgets its own arguments over time.

          This is one particular publisher releasing its archive. It's Academia - the stuff that used to cost $200 per book, which made us all furious at the Book Scam. Now they have released every single one of their texts for download, and the whole point is that you can convert it to text from the PDF. Every one of these can become a podcast. If you and five buddies like it/them, you just have a LAN party and you each

        • by TapeCutter (624760) on Saturday June 04, 2011 @09:11PM (#36339374) Journal

          I wouldn't exactly call them science books

          They said "science books", not "popular science books".

    • +1 funny.

      I've actually encountered people who think this way for real.

    • by artor3 (1344997)

      "Boohoohoo, why don't people give me everything I want, right away, for free, in the format I demand, no strings attached!"

      Have you ever heard that you're not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth? If people give you free shit, you don't accuse them of being devious bastards laying a trap. You say "thanks" or "thanks, but no thanks".

      Let me know when it's released under a CC license, then I'll think about downloading it.

      I am sure they await your approval with bated breath.

      • I assume that you are aware that all these books were produced at US Government expense?

        • I assume that you are aware that all these books were produced at US Government expense?

          What gives you that idea? The National Academies are private organizations and the books they publish do not all result from federally funded research. Even so, the only publications that are automatically public domain are those of US government employees, regardless of the funding source.

    • So, you can download them to your computer, but you can't (legally) make a copy for your friend...

      Where did you get that idea? Ever heard of 'fair use'. Even if you decide that giving a copy to a friend would not fall under fair use then all hell breaks loose if you tell your friend to go download it from the same (free, openly available) site that you downloaded it from?

      This isn't the free as in "land of the free" that I grew up learning about... seems like a trap to me. "How did you know that without ever buying our book or downloading our PDF? You must be a sea faring rapist and murderous theif!"

      Who pooped on your doughnut today? What kind of trap can you make up over a freely downloadable, not DRM'd or locked PDF (other than it's a PDF, this being Slashdot and all).

      You've been snorting too much of that Stalhlman stuff.

    • Their stern language is mostly Anti-Troll. It's about making sure that idiots don't doctor up copies that then somehow get viral exposure thus leaving them to counter 50 media calls about "why does your book say that?"

      They encourage pointing friends to direct links. You can make download-link pointer pages. If your friend wants a hard copy, you "make it for him" as a service transaction. "I'll make you a copy from Kinkos for the price of the materials".

    • So, you can download them to your computer, but you can't (legally) make a copy for your friend... This isn't the free as in "land of the free" that I grew up learning about... seems like a trap to me. "How did you know that without ever buying our book or downloading our PDF? You must be a sea faring rapist and murderous theif!"

      More evidence for the theory that no good deed goes unpunished. The +5 informative is just sad.

      • You're on to something.

        You can either browse them on the site by topic, or even play the fun lottery game I found called "guess the ID number". I'll get you guys started:
        8 10 11 13 15 19 21 22 25 30 35 40 41 54 55 56 58 61 63 75 80 81 86 91 92 100 101.

        They made the books absolutely as clean as they could, no DRM, it extracts to text for podcasting, and so on. However we have a surprising number of people in the thread under their logged in names saying "meh, it's not a torrent so I can't share it".

        We have a

        • by i.r.id10t (595143)

          Unfortunately, I can see where a comment like "no torrent?!?" makes sense - someone appreciates that it is being shared, and would like to help take a small fraction of the load/cost away from the source, even if they never plan to use the materials themselves.

          For example, I have no plan on upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04, but I torrented it to upload 20gb of each cd on the release day - I have the bandwidth/resources, and it was a way of giving back. Not planning on running Slackware again anytime soon, but I t

          • There are three good reasons for them to keep the copyright.
            1. They can prevent people from modifying the originals (eg: for political propoganda).
            2. They can still make a few bucks from people who want to order the hard copies for whatever reason.
            3. Attracts people to their website.

            Besides, even though technically you can't copy them I very much doubt they care if you do so in good faith.
    • by shaitand (626655)

      Since I paid for these books via tax dollars, let me know when it is public domain and I'll think about downloading it.

    • by ivi (126837)

      So, nothing stops you from sending copies of LINKS to anyone you think might like to download some NAP books...

      nor should you have any problems publishing web pages of just titles, links (to NAP's site, for each book) & maybe review comments on some or all of the listed books.

      That's freedom enough for me!

    • by matunos (1587263)
      So I guess you also don't read any commercial books, then?
    • by Dabido (802599)
      It's also not

      " all their books for free in PDF format."

      It's merely all it's books in PDF format for free, which is a far cry form 'all their books'

      I also can't see a way to list all the free books either (maybe I missed it). You have to go to a book you want and see if it is available in PDF'

    • by jgoemat (565882)
      What exactly are you wanting to do with these reports that isn't allowed? Ever hear the expression "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth?"
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Saturday June 04, 2011 @05:13PM (#36338130)

    This gives more citations, - i.e. it's a win-win!

    What do you cite if you're on a tight budget? The free stuff, not necessarily the most "relevant" stuff (said the cynic, in me, too); here, the relevant stuff may be cited in the free stuff, so why not, the logical chain is there.

    • by torako (532270)
      I'm not sure. Every research institute or university has access to pretty much all relevant journals through site contracts.
  • If you are doing 'research' that needs to reference previous public studies, this is great news. (If you are associated with a university or large institution you probably already had access it). This is not the place for discovering how something works (hint: try wikipedia), this is a place for discovering how we use something and what it means for the public.
  • Yes, these books are useful.

    Coming from academia there are some rather obscure subjects
    there, but why not read about the handling and management of
    chemicals? That which is not common is still useful. I daresay
    that skipping over the more "odd" things is an inditement of the
    educational system. Reading that which doesn't interest you at
    first is a great way to learn new things, just as reading political
    views you don't agree with might broaden your ideas.

    • Their server is decent too. Considering they survived a slashdotting without blinking, I'm already up to a gig with about 300 books.

  • Keeping the opposition about 5,000 leaps of faith ahead.

    --
    New Expletive: IS

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Please won't someone download all of these and post a torrent?

  • Very often, the books and papers from NAS, NAE, IOM and NRC provide excellent references by the best people in the country and are very good evaluations of current research, and how we got there. In my work in indoor air quality microbiology, I downloaded one of their books (a page at a time), and the references and reviews were exceptionally helpful in my keeping current and interpreting data. Making their work available for downloading in large units is awesome!
  • The titles alone put me to sleep in seconds. I can't help but wonder when various Bush appointees will classify the book titles as a federally controlled substance?
  • I immediately found a book for $99.95 and downloaded it. Saved almost $100!
    I'll come back tomorrow and see if I can find five more for $99.95, so I can buy a new laptop.

    - yep I learned logical reasoning from the music industry.

  • http://www.pdfernhout.net/open-letter-to-grantmakers-and-donors-on-copyright-policy.html [pdfernhout.net]
    "An Open Letter to All Grantmakers and Donors On Copyright And Patent Policy In a Post-Scarcity Society ... Foundations, other grantmaking agencies handling public tax-exempt dollars, and charitable donors need to consider the implications for their grantmaking or donation policies if they use a now obsolete charitable model of subsidizing proprietary publishing and proprietary research. In order to improve the effective

  • It requires a registered account to download the PDFs. And, to be honest, I wasn't much excited about the titles either. Are there any gems that are really worth making an account for?

    • > Are there any gems that are really worth making an account for?

      Not for you.

    • I think I saw a "continue as guest" option but really, just sign up and get some street cred in the academic circles.

    • Actually, it doesn't. You can download as a guest. It will ask for your email and name, but as far as I can tell, it doesn't do anything to verify them.

  • Lots of these are quite specialised. For a broad intro to physics (up to general relativity and quantum theory), try Motion Mountain:

    http://motionmountain.net/ [motionmountain.net]

    • Alternate suggestion: Go through the MIT open courseware physics trio. Also, watch any class with Walter Lewman (sp). The chap is a rock star.

      -eag

  • - lower download data costs, &
    - they'd have another form of feedback on how popular each title is
        (eg, by the # of [seeds &] peers each attracts, & for how long...)

    (Of course, in time, they'll still need to be the main source... so, it could be a short-term savings.)

    PS If they don't... perhaps people will soon start put together packages of NAP books, for BT distrib'n...?

  • Congrats to the Foundation! Maybe this will get more people to study and understand science. I hope some other institutions follow suit.

"Indecision is the basis of flexibility" -- button at a Science Fiction convention.

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