About Semaphore Press Students Professors Our Books FAQs



Semaphore Press offers you a digital casebook for download, for the suggested price of $30. It's a fair price, based on how we publish our books. To learn more about how we arrived at our approach, keep reading ...

Today, each standard law school casebook can cost $180 or more
We at Semaphore Press understand why the casebooks that are distributed by traditional casebook publishers typically have a suggested retail price of $180 or more. A lot of resources go into the business of casebook publishing: Authors have to write the casebook, edit the cases, and write the additional content contained in the book. Editors have to seek out and select which books to publish. Still more editors are needed to review the written material, format the text, prepare the indexes, and complete the layout of the book. The books have to be printed and bound. The published casebooks have to be marketed to professors for potential adoption, which includes sending free "review copies" to hundreds of professors, paying sales representatives to visit professors at their schools, and sponsoring sales booths at law professor conferences. And the books need to be shipped to bookstores and customers across the country. All in all, this traditional operation costs quite a bit, and it is why casebooks cost about $180.

It doesn't have to be that way
Semaphore Press does have costs. But our costs are not as high as those of a traditional publisher. We still have authors who write the content and editors who perform the variety of editorial functions. We have this website, which costs money to create and maintain. And we have the standard business expenses that any corporation faces (accountants, legal services, taxes, etc.). But we don't have significant marketing costs because we don't believe that traditional marketing best serves the ultimate goal of fair access to a high-quality education. We also don't have the printing and shipping costs associated with delivering hard copy books for sale, or even for review by professors who may or may not adopt a particular book.

Our value proposition
We present you with this value proposition: Use our website to pay for and download your personal copy of the material that your professor has assigned for your class, or that you are interested in. If you would like a hardcopy or bound version of the material, you are welcome to print it out. You can place it in a three-ring binder, or even take it to your local copy shop and pay to have it bound with the binding type of your choice. Or not. It's up to you. It really is that simple.

What do you have to pay?
Each publication has a suggested price. We price full casebooks based on our belief that it is fair to ask a student pay about $1 for the reading material for each one-hour class session. Different schools use different calendars and credit hours, so we've settled on a suggested price for most of our casebooks of $30. We ask that you pay the suggested price either with a credit card (by clicking the appropriate link on our page), or by sending us a check, and then download a digital copy of the casebook. Note that if your professor has assigned, e.g., only 10 class sessions of material from a Semaphore Press book, then we suggest that you pay $10.

We have expenses that we need to cover. Our authors hope, and deserve, to receive some royalty revenue from the works that they've created. But we also recognize that law school is expensive. We've heard stories of students not buying the required books because they just can't afford them. These students - who want to learn just as much as those who can afford the books - borrow a classmate's book some days, read the copy that is on reserve in the library other days, and some days simply can't do the reading. We think that is not the best way to go about obtaining, or offering, an excellent legal education. Download the required reading and pay what you can, or what you think is fair.

The risk of freeriders
We know that the biggest risk to our business model is freeriders. If too many students pay little or nothing for the materials they download, Semaphore Press won't be able to pay its bills over the long run, and we won't be able to attract authors to publish their casebooks with us. Put simply, we need a critical mass of students to pay for the materials they download. Be a part of the solution to $180 casebooks, by fostering the creation of $30 casebooks: Please pay the suggested price. If you can't pay it, please at least pay something to help Semaphore Press succeed.

What rights do you get to the material you've downloaded?
Semaphore Press and our authors retain the copyrights in the material available on our website. You can download a casebook copy from the website for your personal use. If you lose it, or your computer crashes or is stolen, don't worry; we'll still be here. Come back to download a replacement copy, and don't worry about having to pay again. We are not granting you permission to reproduce the material and books available on our website except to the extent needed for your personal copy. We are not granting you permission to distribute copies either.

We ask that you not resell or give away your copy. Instead, please direct people who are interested in obtaining a copy to the Semaphore Press website, where they can download their own copies. The resale market in the traditional casebook publishing world is part of what drives casebook prices up to $180. In fact, even those review copies that are sent to professors for free (some of which are stamped with "Review Copy Not to Be Resold") are often sold into the used book market. When a publisher prices a book at $180, it is factoring in the competition and lost opportunities that the resold books embody for them. Things are different at Semaphore Press: Because anyone can get his or her own copy of a Semaphore Press book, we ask that you help us keep legal casebook materials available at reasonable prices by directing your fellow students to our website.

Prefer a traditional printed casebook?
Some students know they learn best from a traditional printed and bound book. For three of our titles we offer the option of a traditional book through Amazon.  The price of those books is a little more than double the suggested price of $30 because it also includes the cost that Amazon charges to print and bind the book. If you would prefer a printed bound copy please use the links below.  And, because you will have already paid Semaphore Press the suggested price, you should also feel free to download a digital copy using the "freerider" button found at the bottom of the payment page for the digital version of that title.

Lydia Loren & Joe Miller, Intellectual Property Law: Cases & Materials

• James Grimmelmann, Internet Law: Cases & Problems

• Jeffrey Litwak, Interstate Compacts: Cases & Materials

• John Parry, Cases & Problems in Civil Rights Litigation

Finally, it has always been the case with Semaphore Press casebooks that, if you want a printed hard copy of a book after downloading a digital copy from Semaphore Press, you can print a personal copy for yourself on your printer. There are no printing restrictions or other digital rights management that will prevent you from doing that. Similarly, you can take your digital copy to a copyshop like FedEx/Kinko's that offers multiple binding methods. You have our permission to print and bind a personal copy of your downloaded book. You may want to bring a copy of this explanatory letter we've created and provide it to the copyshop to address the copyshop's potential copyright concerns.

Want to send a comment to Semaphore Press?
What do you think of Semaphore Press's publishing model? We welcome your feedback, comments, and suggestions.
Email us: feedback@semaphorepress.com

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