College Textbooks . . .

Reply Wed 4 May, 2011 10:07 am
Are largely a rip-off.

Imagine 800 +/- paper backed books that sell for $90.

I remember taking 18th Century British Literature in graduate school, probably in academic 1970-71. The book was more than 1,000 pages, printed on elegant tissue-thin paper and bound in a handsome rust colored cover. The professor, who had once worked in publishing, said the book was well-bound, then demonstrated by opening the heavy volume on her desk and gently selecting one page by which she lifted the entire thing.

I can do that with these paper-backed behemoths but that doesn't mean the books survive a semester.

Texts for remedial writing are often poorly organized and repetitive. Many texts designed for English 101 are also repetitive.

What is worse is the texts spoon feed the students. If the purpose of college is to teach critical thinking, why are texts pre-highlighted? To me, that defeats the purpose.

Furthermore, I find all that color on a page distracting, even repellant. I simply do not want to read a book full of color.

Developmental students need models. I had been using a text which contained two pieces they loved: one a critique of our reliance on technology by the comedian Ellen DeGeneris and that the other a selection from the Autobiography of Malcolm X in which he describes how he improved his reading skills. Students want to read these pieces because they know who Malcolm X and Ellen DeGeneris are. They come away from them having enjoyed the work and learned from them.

Most writing texts offer student essays. They are generally lack-luster. More to the point, the students simply are not enthused about reading an essay by another student who is unknown to them who attends a college hundreds of miles away that they have never heard of. As models, these essays fail abysmally.

This morning, I worked with a publisher on a variation of a standard text. This is a new house which offers stripped down versions of texts for fall less than the conglomerate titans do. I started with a basic text which consists of 15 chapters. They price it at $35 for the black and white edition. With color, the price doubles.

Really? Students need to pay twice as much for color?
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Reply Wed 4 May, 2011 10:43 am
I remember taking 18th Century British Literature in graduate school...

You'd already made a long series of mistakes getting to that point...

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