boundless is being sued by textbook publishers for offering cut-rate and cut-down versions online.  They cover 21 subjects and all the books are $20, which is quite a bargain compared to $100-200 for many printed textbooks.

Here’s how it works: Instead of an actual textbook, Boundless summarizes all of the key information, chapter by chapter into a condensed version about 90 percent shorter. You’ll miss the author’s style, but you’ll get what you need to know, complete with flashcards, quizzes, and reminders. Their own research shows Boundless users study far less than other students and get better results.

We took a look at some of textbooks, like “Basic Economics,” by Thomas Sowell, and it looked all right. It was a summary of his major points, but left out his style and illustrative examples. This may be less of a loss than one thinks; Bob has written a couple of books for major publishers and encountered lots of pressure to “fatten them up.” Regular book publishers want buyers to feel they are getting something substantial for their money, even though nothing of substance is being added.

The $20 Boundless versions online are the same price as getting the full book on a Kindle. But the Kindle version includes all of the historical examples and details that the Boundless summaries leave out. If cost were no object, we would rather read Sowell’s complete book and use the “quick study” Boundless version for review.

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