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Matt Basham teaches the Cisco Certified Engineers course so when he wrote a textbook he aproached Cisco to see if they were interested in publishing the book to help students doing the course. Cisco was not interested, so Basham decided to publish the book himself.

Basham, who teaches at St Petersburg College, Clearwater, Florida, wrote the 800 page manual, called Learning by Doing: Cisco Certified Network Administrator 3.0 to give his students better real world experience. So far more than 2,000 copies have been downloaded. The book is available as a Word document here.

Basham's book is also available at Lulu.com where you can buy a hard copy for about $25.

He told CNET that he had no complaint against Cisco or the books it produces to support its certified engineers course. But eCisco books assume too much knowledge for a lot of students, he said. "About half the people in this program barely know how to turn a computer on, so we need to start with the very basics. The Cisco curriculum and texts assume a certain level of knowledge." Although Cisco initially rejected Basham's book the router giant has been in contact since he posted the text online.

Rob Young, a co-founder of Red Hat, is CEO of lulu.com. The company wants to reduce the amount students pay for textbooks - the average US college freshman spends $900 a year on books. According to Young, self-publishing is changing the way that books, especially academic books, get distributed. Young thinks this will improve quality as well as reduce cost, CNET reports. ®

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