Thanks to Francois Therin for the reference to Flat World Knowledge. I certainly expect other online startups to follow their lead given the demographics of the target market. The majority of these individuals would probably prefer access the text electronically anyway but — at $0 — the incentive is even stronger. The business model also makes sense. Even if a tiny percentage take up the printed version option, given the large numbers, there is still money to be made. In India alone, there are probably a few hundred million individuals who would likely jump at the chance of access to a free text and there will be plenty of educators who will be willing to prescribe them.
The new price of online textbooks is free