No disrespect meant -- it's awesome to see Stanford experimenting with education like this. But still... wow.
Edit: reminds me of the $24MM house Stewart -- of Stewart's calculus -- built with earnings from his calc texts . I'm not hating on educators being paid well, but particularly stewart seems a little... unseemly, particularly in light of the constant churn of new editions. Has calculus or calculus pedagogy seriously changed in the last 10 years in a way that requires a stream of new calc book editions?
Speaking as a math prof: No. No. NO. It is a ripoff of our students, pure and simple.
When teaching calculus at a previous job we used the eighth edition of this calculus book by Varberg et al., and the statement of Taylor's theorem (one of the major theorems of calculus) was wrong. You figure, eight editions, you could get it right. But evidently I was naive.
However, a couple of universities I have taught at have explicitly told publishers that if they go to a new edition, and stop selling the old one, then the department will move to a different book entirely. I've finally moved up to a tenure track job; I'm going to enjoy this game of hardball :)
As a math prof, which texts(old or new) do you think are good? (fwiw I like Spivak)
The book itself
It gives you a working knowledge to get going with almost any practical problem you may encounter that needs to be approached with mahtematical analysis.
I would say that Spivak books are more about learning the culture of working mathematicians, and while with its merits one must be careful with commitment of investing her personal time to it.
Also, here is a great page to learn about good (and usually public) books for different branches of mathematics and physics by a Nobel-winning theoretical physicist G. t'Hooft
I don't have a favorite yet; Thomas was good, I expect to also like Stewart (which I am using for this first time this fall). As is typical, the math department as a whole chooses which book to use.
I'm not familiar with the `aristocratic' books (Spivak, Apostol), but I have heard they are excellent. I don't need to learn calculus anymore :) -- but I will check them out if I ever teach an honors class.
I suspect their deal is not so sweet with publishers. The professors I knew only got $1-$2 on $75 book.
I doubt more than 1 in 10 will even do two assignments.
People are, statistically, flakes.