DailyDirt: Those Who Can, Write Textbooks…

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Textbooks are surprisingly expensive items. The classic example is an introductory math textbook: where the math hasn’t changed significantly for over a hundred years, but the price of the newest edition seems to suggest that there should be a lot of new material added to the book. Sure, there’s a used book market — and even rental books nowadays — but the trend of rising textbook prices has some students and faculty questioning some of the publishing industry’s practices.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Those Who Can, Write Textbooks…”

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Socrates says:

"Out of print" textbooks

When the author of a textbook sign away his rights to get published, the publisher often deliberately chooses to withdraw the book within approximately 2 years, and bar the author from any alternative publishing of the work. This also makes fewer books “recoup”, and trap the author to the publisher.

Math textbook have exercises that artificially change from year to year. This forces students to buy the latest issued book to be able to follow explanations of how to solve these problems.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: "Out of print" textbooks

Note that the way that publishers get new sales is by shuffling the contents, re-ordering chapters, examples and problems. This makes it very difficult for students to use older copies, as the page numbers etc. do not match those being used by the teacher.
The publishers do not need or want new content, and when they do, they just continue with their tricks to make for new sales.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: "Out of print" textbooks

What happened to the practice (I experienced in the 1970s) of having a main textbook in hardcover but the exercises were in a paperback volume that changed each year? That way the hardcover – at least for math books – could be used for a number of years but students would have to buy the paperback volume each year?

Ninja (profile) says:

Should academic freedom allow a professor to chose a different textbook from his/her colleagues?

Absolutely. The learning institution itself should include many alternatives even if they are not from their own professors. It’s a matter of style. Some teachers are more comfortable with one method or another, there usually isn’t a ‘one fits all’ in these cases.

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