Via Vlorbik, here’s a letter to the editor (PDF) of the AMS Notices by Seymour Lipschutz extolling the virtues of Schaum’s Outlines as course texts and giving some suggestions for those choosing textbooks.
I agree with Lipschutz’ feelings about Schaum’s Outlines, up to a point. I’m a big fan of Schaum’s Outlines; they cost less than $20 and are loaded with precise, succint summaries of course material and worked-out problems. I
survived college physics and advanced calculus largely because of my now-battered Schaum’s Outlines for those subjects. I ordered the latest edition of the differential equations Outlines as I was considering using it for my DE course next semester, and I liked what I saw very much; and the publisher sent me a gratis copy of the beginning calculus Outlines and it was very good as well. I will be suggesting these outlines strongly to the students in those courses.
But to use them as the textbook for a course? I’m a little skeptical. They are, after all, outlines. I think that students in the lower-level courses like calculus, and to some extent mid-level courses like DE’s or linear algebra, would benefit from having a more fully-featured textbook.
On the other hand, a carefully-written set of course notes made up by the professor, augmented by Schaum’s Outlines and hand-picked resources from the web, make up a pretty good blueprint for a cheap, portable, and effective package of course materials that I think students would get a lot more out of than a single monolithic textbook that they can’t carry around easily and never read.