The textbook cost debate
With the return of fall I was reminiscing about my college days. I thought about all of the good stuff, of course—new friends, girlfriends, dorm experiences, nightlife experiences (so to speak) when I came across this article about the rising costs of textbooks.
And then I remembered how terrible that was. I went to school right at the turning point between print and digital texts, and I still recall the first time a dude in one of my classes offered to buy the textbook for a class, and then, for a fee (duh), he would digitize it for us (ie: scan it and make a pdf). This was, and is, illegal, but it was very, very tempting at the time, I remember. The book in question was about $200 and, two weeks in our prof said we needed it but we’d yet to use it in class. I ended up not paying for the PDF, mostly out of guilt, and also not buying the book. And you know what? I didn’t need it. I never would have looked at it.
Now, there are for sure a tonne of amazing text books out there. I still read a few of mine on occasion, specifically the History of Italian Cinema by Peter Bondanella. But the cost of textbooks is terrible, and it can definitely feel like you’re being robbed by someone. Especially—which happened to me more than once—when the book in question is BY your professor.
But what instead? Shouldn’t we pay for our knowledge? Maybe. But it seems like there should be a better system. A digitized one. Not scanned PDFs by some dude, but a true library. This will become easier/better as more of us switch to iPads and other devices. Once we do, maybe you could pay a weekly fee to use the digital version, and then when your semester is over, you could pay a small amount to keep it or let it expire (like library ebooks now).
Of course, the ereaders aren’t cheap either. But that’s a whole other thing.