• JDR-Jack-Roberts
    John D. "Jack" Roberts

Jack Roberts's Online Success

At 98 years of age, John D. "Jack" Roberts, Caltech Institute professor of chemistry, emeritus, recently became a best-selling online author.

On June 8, Roberts turned 98; just a few days later, his textbook, Basic Principles of Organic Chemistry, surpassed 500,000 file downloads. He wrote the first edition with his protégé Marjorie C. Caserio in 1964. The second edition, created in 1977, is now available online for free at the Caltech Library, where it has been doing brisk business: since December 2012, when accurate records of the book's popularity began being maintained, more than 502,000 copies have been downloaded.

Roberts, a proponent of open access to scholarly material, has worked with the Caltech Library for the last decade to make five of his previously published textbooks freely available.

"Since being included in CaltechAUTHORS in September 2011, Basic Principles of Organic Chemistry has accounted for more than 10 percent of all file downloads," says George Porter, Caltech's engineering librarian. "This is more than twice the download activity of CaltechAUTHORS' second most highly used resource."

Written by Jon Nalick