At the start of the college year in 2008 tens of thousands of students were flocking to TextBookTorrents. Their goal? To save hundreds of dollars on expensive books.
At its height the site had more than 70,000 members, with over 20,000 peers trading files at any given point in time.
The site managed to fly under the radar for a long time, but as it expanded the press and book publishers started to take notice. This unwanted attention led to numerous takedown requests and legal threats were also directed at the owner of the site, who saw no other option than to turn the final page in October 2008.
After it closed, students were left with no other option than to buy their books or to find other sources where they could share them. Oddly enough, the gap left by TextBookTorrents was never filled in the two years since its demise, despite the fact that eBooks have become mainstream and eReaders more affordable. This absence didn’t go unnoticed to a duo of college students, who launched the site Torrent My Books a few days ago.
“We were disheartened when we heard that TextbookTorrents was shutting down way back when, and since we did not see any sites coming up to replace it, we decided to take it upon ourselves to do something,” one of the founders explained to TorrentFreak.
The purpose of TorrentMyBooks is to be a place where people can share books freely, not just textbooks, although that is the main focus. The main difference with the late TextBookTorrents is that the site doesn’t have a tracker. It just provides an index of book related torrents where users can add to and download from.
The appearance and feature set of the site is similar to many other sites. Visitors can browse through the different sections, and the homepage of the site shows the more recent titles added to the various categories. TorrentMyBooks currently lists just over hundred torrents, but the founders hope there will be thousands of titles available soon.
Science Books on Torrent My Books
“The motivation for creating the site is based on a personal experience of mine in college,” half of the duo told TorrentFreak. “One semester I needed to take an Art History class and it required the students to buy a textbook which cost roughly $150 USD. Fast forward to the end of the semester, I go to the school book store to sell back the book. I am told flat out that it is out of date and they cannot buy the book.”
“I was appalled that an art HISTORY book goes out of date. How does a book about the history of art change so much that you need a new edition? The only reason I can think of is that publishers have a monopoly and are able to force students to buy a new edition,” TorrentMyBook’s co-founder says.
It is pretty clear where the motivation of the site’s founders come from, but then there’s always the follow up question that deals with the morality of the operation. Here, the site’s co-founder – annex textbook vigilante – pictures himself on the right side of the argument as well.
“The morality of torrenting books is not clearly defined. You can’t really put a price on sharing knowledge such as books. That’s why most libraries are free. I also do not mind paying for books but publishers like to take advantage of students which does not seem right to me. Also, as a student, I do notice that people are looking for a cheaper alternative to books.”
Then there’s one hurdle left, the legality of the operation. Considering the history of TextBookTorrents and the piracy paranoia among book publishers as of late, the founders of TorrentMyBooks can expect plenty of DMCA notices, or worse. This is something they considered before starting the site, but nonetheless they will carry out their ambitions.
“One must be worried about the legal implications. However, we are going to be diligent in creating the number one source for books,” we were told.