The National Academies Press -- the publishing arm of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council -- are dedicated to distributing their books to as wide an audience as possible.
Effective June 2, 2011, PDFs of books that are currently for sale on the National Academies Press (NAP) website and PDFs associated with future books will be offered free of charge to all web visitors. NAP produces more than 200 books a year on a wide range of topics in science, engineering, and health, capturing the best-informed views on important issues. NAP will continue to sell hard-copy versions of their books. One popular title with researchers is Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards, which costs $99.95 in hardcover.
Former AAUP President Sandy Thatcher commented in the Chronicle of Higher Education story on NAP's announcement that "NAP was the first member of the Association of American University Presses to post books online for free beginning in the mid-1990s, becoming thereby a pioneer in the open-access movement, and this new step only adds to its luster as a leader in this worthy cause."
The VCU Libraries catalog currently lists over 2,000 online books and over 1,200 hard-copy books from the National Academies Press.