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Do you remember hitting ye olde campus bookstore back in your college days and getting sticker-shock from the final tally on your books? Yep, it’s expensive.

Educational nonprofit 20 Million Minds Foundation (20MM) and publishing platform developer Highlighter announced their partnership on a new book for fall, Introduction to Sociology. And it’s free. Both organizations are dedicated to lowering the cost of books, making them more accessible and easier to share among professors and classmates.

Sociology is also the first student-faculty interactive textbook, they call that function “social highlighting.” Students can highlight, make notes, share and save parts of text for reference. Faculty can also publish free textbooks and other materials through the HTML5 Reader and receive analyses of student’s experiences with the text with tracking features, i.e. what sections they are digging and where they may need help. They can make comments on PDF, ePUB, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It also recognizes messages on Facebook and Twitter, and those conversations can become embedded into the text, too.

The Highlighter interactive social tool is already in use at schools including Clemson, MIT, Syracuse, Berkeley, Notre Dame, among others. 20MM and Highlighter report that since Introduction to Sociology has been made available, it’s been viewed by more than 10,000 users.

“I believe the companies combined have spent a million dollars in total creating this one sociology textbook to focus on the quality,” says Highlighter’s co-founder and CEO Josh Mullineaux. “To my knowledge, that is the most expensive OER (Open Educational Resources) textbook every created.”

Funding for the book’s development was also contributed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Highlighter is a graduate of the TechStars Seattle incubator program.

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