Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Retraction

It looks like I need to backpedal in my vehemence against this Business Communications class I'm scheduled to start tomorrow.  A couple of weeks ago I went to the bookstore and was told that the teacher hadn't picked the book for our class yet, but it was most likely the $150 volume that several other classes used.  Which led to my once-a-semester rant about high college textbook prices.  My opinion still stands - $150 for a textbook teaching anything other than how to spin straw into gold is overpriced.  But guess who won't be paying for that book?  Me, that's who.

The online class doesn't have a book in the bookstore because the teacher put everything online.  For free.  I'm having a hard time believing it's true because it makes entirely too much sense.

Where's this teacher's sense of entitlement?  If she's gathered her own materials, why didn't she at least have the copy center at the school bind it and slap a price tag on it?  Where's her school spirit?  Doesn't she know that every used book we buy at ridiculously high prices is money in the school's pocket?  Where's her complete obliviousness to the state of student finances?  Why didn't she milk us for all we're worth (or all our parents are worth, in some cases)?  

I don't know the answers to any of these questions, but I am absolutely going to ask her when the class starts.  I've taken 63 credits so far, which is 21 classes, and I've always, always had to buy a book.  This is awesome.

I recognize that I'm a little extreme in my emotions towards this subject, but if you'd allow me to carry on for one more minute.  Here's an article I read yesterday about Amazon's Kindle hooking up with textbook publishers.  They'd create a larger-screened version of the Kindle to better simulate the charts and graphics in a text (and, clearly, to charge more for it, because everyone needs a chance to milk the cash cow).  But the line I loved was this:  "But digitizing academic books could also hurt the thriving market for used textbooks on college campuses."

There's only a "thriving market" for textbooks because we have no other options!  It's like saying that we shouldn't download MP3's because it would hurt the thriving market for used CDs.  Oh yeah it's going to hurt the "thriving market" of used books, and it ought to.  It should SLAY the used book market!  If a product can be made, sold, and delivered cheaper, faster, or better, then that is the product consumers will flock to.  It's the reason people pick Toyotas over Chryslers, and the reason that $150 textbooks ought to go the way of the Pontiac.  (The car, not the Native Americans.)  If even one tax dollar goes to propping up the "damaged textbook industry" I swear to you I will go completely ballistic.

Okay, this is starting to sound more like Rant #2 than a retraction of previously stated information.  I tend to get a little one-note sometimes, and I'm sorry for that.  The very nice thing is that I won't have to relive this rant every time I pull my $150 book out of my backpack and see the page my kids ripped, or drew on, or spilled melted Slurpee on, thus dropping the resale value of the information on those pages to roughly $25.  No, I can actually rejoice at the cost of this class's textbook, and the one teacher I've had so far that has figured this out.  Viva la revolucion!

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