When networking giant Cisco Systems told computer instructor Matt Basham it wasn't interested in publishing a textbook he'd written to improve its Networking Academies training program, Basham decided to go at it alone, making the 800-page document available to teachers and students for free on the internet. The result is a networking text that is easy to read, less costly, and more widely accessible to students than Cisco's own curriculum.

Since signing with online publisher Lulu.com, the professor of information technology and IT security at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, Fla., estimates that more than...

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