How to make a DIY Textvook

A couple days ago Vook dropped the price on 5 of their titles. You can now get them on the Kindle for free (including the enhancements).

I got them and I have to say they’re nice. The ebooks are reasonably well written and the videos do add to the value of the book. In fact, I think you might want to go look at the free textvooks; at least some of the 50 or so free unenhanced titles will be useful to you.

As I was looking at the textvooks I realized that this was an idea that would be relatively easy to copy. The videos aren’t integrated into the content; they were added later. It shouldn’t be hard to take another textbook and do the same.

Let’s start with an open source textbook, say, economics. I know of a couple that have been approved by the state of California, which means they meet certain content requirements. Or you could find a different one or even make your own.

Next, you’ll need videos. Why not try to use the lecture videos produced by the Khan Academy?  They’re licensed under CC-BY-NC-SA, which means you can do almost anything you want except sell them. You can legitimately cut clips out of them and integrate the clips into your textvook.

Take the CC licensed textbook, add the CC licensed clips, and you have a textvook. Of course, at this point you need to consider  whether you want to go all the way and make an app, or if you want to leave the content as a website.

I lean towards an app. This creates the mind set that will point you towards having a PDF alternative. I don’t want a PDF; I just want it available in case someone wants to print and bind it as a paper textbook. Yes, I know the videos won’t work, but some users will still want the paper copy anyway.

Is anyone interested in trying this out?

image by ario

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Beth Harris8 May, 2011

    Good point!

    And perhaps one of the Art History Textbook publishers might be interested in integrating the 300 or so art history videos on

  2. […] by Nate Hoffelder · No Comments · software news, video // About 3 months ago I wrote a post which talked about how someone could use videos from sites such as the Khan Academy and use them to […]


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