The Evil Twin, the Seed of Satan – Digital Textbooks

A More Efficient Way for Publishers to Break Our Pockets  


extexts vs digital

Last week, we began to discuss open-source textbooks, see YOU Have Been Cheated!, as a viable option to overpriced textbooks. After reading the post, that may have lead you to consider digital textbooks. They’re almost the same thing, right? Not really! The biggest difference is that open source textbooks are FREE and digital textbooks cost A LOT! Digital textbooks costs a few pennies less than print textbooks but can also be more expensive.

For 2 semesters I took Spanish to fulfill my language requirement for my English Education degree at UMD. Learning languages has never been my cup of tea and to make it worse the Spanish department required a supplemental online program that cost mucho dinero. There was no way around it! The school required it for all the classes. Without MySpanish Lab, the supplemental online program, it would be impossible for a student to receive above a 90% because MySpanishLab was 10% of the final grade. Even though I found the program helpful, it cost close to $100.That may not seem very expensive to you, but for me that was working a whole week at a beauty supply store making minimum wage.

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Why does it cost so much to run an online program? Even though the cartoon publisher says, “You’ve been misinformed”. I believe that there is a BAG OF MONEY that the publishers are hiding as the cartoon suggests. Even though publishers claim that digital textbooks are expensive because of the knowledge needed to create them, the Daily Illini, a publication by the University of Illinois, proves this to be inaccurate. In Johnathan Hettinger’s article, For most college professors, money made from own textbooks provides little, Hettinger reports that Bruce Levine, a professor at the University of Illinois, said that he was only making, “10 cents a copy for the 30 copies in the class [and] couldn’t believe the student’s outrage [when the students complained about him using his own textbooks]”. So where is the rest of this money going? PUBLISHERS!!!!

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Instead of publishers using online textbooks as a means to help alleviate the burden of textbook costs, they are taking part of the 77.4% they make and POCKETING IT! Don’t get me wrong, producing a book is labor intensive, but not that much!!!

In Digital Textbooks: Publishers and the Unrealized Promise, publishers are EXPOSED even further. The article says that, “The legacy publishers will tell you that they can’t make digital textbooks both high quality and affordable, but that’s not the issue. It’s that they don’t want to.” Why don’t they want to? BECAUSE they fear they will lose money. So how have they been trying to fix the problem of losing money? By offering the text for only 6 month access and providing low quality e-texts almost in hopes that students won’t purchase them.

Not only do students have to deal with the cost of e-texts, they also have to be concerned about the quality of the product. Byron Brown, a professor of economics at Michigan State University says, “Current e-texts are also a markedly inferior product. They are static PDF knockoffs of vertically oriented print pages. That means they don’t display well on most computer screens, and they resist printing an easy-to-read copy by inexplicably downsizing the fonts for home printing”.

Currently, only 15% of students choose the e-text over the print text. We have to do something about this!!!

We need to push publishers to

  • take the time to improve digital texts
  •  also push them to lower prices

Digital Textbooks don’t have to be the Evil Twin!!! Or the Seed of Satan!!!

Click here to sign Textbook Busters’ petition to publishers.

YOU Have Been CHEATED!

Intro to the Textbook Scam and Possible Solutions


 

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While it may seem unfair to compare textbook costs with prostitution, the caveman on the right is on to something. Textbooks are bringing in a lot of revenue. It’s almost as if publishing companies and authors (AKA universities and professors) sat around a table and said, “How can we make MORE money off of students?” The worst thing is that no one did anything to stop them. The purpose of this blog is to bring awareness to the tactics that big companies use to get rich and fatten the pockets of universities at the expense of students.

Students realize that textbooks are expensive, but most do not realize the extent to which they have been cheated. These sources have been compiled to get you mad, I mean concerned (smile), enough to take action.  This week we want to provide sources that really introduce you to the argument and show the history of the textbook cost rise and the beginnings to what we can do about it.


Fixing the Broken Textbook Market

By Ethan Senack / The Student PIRGs

Summary: This report has SOOO much information on the history of textbook expenses and what students think about the rise of textbook costs. This report specifically shows the findings and  research that has been done on this issue from surveying college students.This report also features things that students, faculty, and even law-makers can do to help with textbook costs.

Why this source is important:

One of the perks of this report is that it was written by a student with students in mind. This source is also very legitimate since it went through the hands of the PIRG. Since this was created with the student in mind it is very easy to read.

You will find intriguing facts like…

65% of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive.

This research is important because it puts statistics to what you and other college students are feeling.

What to do with this source practically :

This source gives a great backdrop but also gives us the golden ticket to solving this problem, OPEN TEXTBOOKS! Maybe we should listen to him…


College Textbooks Cost Most Outrageous than Ever

By Herb Weisbaum

Summary: This video and article also do a great job of presenting the current status of textbook costs.  This source addresses.

  • Textbook prices are going higher than inflation.
  • Marketplace cost is in the hands of publisher which makes it easier for textbooks to be expensive.

Why this source is important:

This source is important because it is easy to listen to. Weisbaum takes many of the findings in this field and puts them into laymans terms. It is easily digestible.

What to do with this source practically :

Weisbaum presents some intriguing information and really convinces the reader that this can be fixed. He suggests that we explore open source textbooks.


Open-source textbooks in policy focus

By Jeremy Snow

Summary:

In a recent article, written by a University of Maryland student, Jeremy Snow discusses a possible option that could eliminate the price of textbooks. That’s right! Completely eliminate the price of textbooks. Open Source textbooks seem to be the answer to the problem. This article views what needs to be done to implement it.

Why this source is important:

This possible solution to the problem is important because it could significantly lower textbook costs to the lowest levels. This also directly impacts UM college students because it was written by our college newspaper.

What to do with this source practically:

Let’s promote this! This seems extremely promising. If we are able to convince school legislatures and other bodies to support this measure perhaps we can begin to have a little extra pocket change.


OVERALL…These sources are all important to our understanding of the textbook cost rise. We can all do little things to help. After becoming educated on the issue, take the first step and contact your legislature via this link. Together we can end absurd textbook prices.