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New Bill Proposes Open Source Requirement for Publicly Funded Books

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the return-to-the-commonwealth dept.

Education 317

fsufitch writes "On September 30th, the 'Open College Textbook Act of 2009' was introduced to the Senate and referred to committee. The bill proposes that all educational materials published or produced using federal funds need to be published under open licenses. The reasoning behind it takes into account the changing way information is distributed because of the Internet, the high price of college and textbooks, and the dangerously low college graduation rates in the US. Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?"

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317 comments

Seems fair to me. (5, Insightful)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608689)

If the public pays for the research and creation they should have access to the intellectual product for no additional fee. It's silly that it isn't this way now. Of course we can all thank our corrupt congress critters for that.

Re:Seems fair to me. (2, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608767)

Yeah, I'd say it's pretty much common sense. A city doesn't pay to have a playground built in a park just so the construction company can say who can and can't use it.

Re:Seems fair to me. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29609321)

geekoid [slashdot.org] did my ass last night, bitch!

Re:Seems fair to me. (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609053)

No, you can thank all the people who voted those corrupt Congress critters into office.

Re:Seems fair to me. (3, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609277)

Bullshit. There have been maybe 10 people that have ever run for congress that have anything resembling common sense. Doesn't matter who you vote for, they're going to be idiots. It's just a question of what kind of idiocy you prefer.

Re:Seems fair to me. (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609067)

If the public pays for the research and creation they should have access to the intellectual product for no additional fee. It's silly that it isn't this way now. Of course we can all thank our corrupt congress critters for that.

Look at the reasons given in the summary:

The reasoning behind it takes into account the changing way information is distributed because of the Internet, the high price of college and textbooks, and the dangerously low college graduation rates in the US.

Those are all reasons of convenience. There is no principle in them. I don't fault the summary or its author for viewing it this way, as I believe it just reflects where we're at in this superficial society. As you say, there is an overriding reason why any textbooks produced by open funds need to be released with open licenses: because the public is paying the tab and therefore has a right to it. If the publishers don't like that, they can produce and sell goods on their own with no such assistance like almost every other company. This is the outcome that should happen regardless of whether it's convenient or inconvenient for anyone. It sure would be nice if that were more widely appreciated.

Re:Seems fair to me. (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609139)

If this bill passes, it won't change anything. The professors that write these books will simply reject the U.S. funds and get money from other places like IBM, Microsoft, Ford, and so on. Professors want to be reimbursed for their many hours of work, not give books away for free (or cheap).

Re:Seems fair to me. (5, Informative)

zolltron (863074) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609409)

If this bill passes, it won't change anything. The professors that write these books will simply reject the U.S. funds

That's just not possible. Almost all universities run on federal funds. If a given professor's research isn't sponsored by federal funds, the cost of the building in which she works almost certainly is (at least in part). The concept of "rejecting" U.S. funds is like rejecting your paycheck, you worked hard to earn it, you take it.

and get money from other places like IBM, Microsoft, Ford, and so on.

These places are giving out money for biology, chemistry, theoretical high energy physics, english, history, philosophy, sociology, psychology?!? Maybe a little, but not much.

Professors want to be reimbursed for their many hours of work, not give books away for free (or cheap).

First, we (professors) are reimbursed, we're paid by our university to produce exactly this sort of work. So, professors who are being paid for their textbooks are (in a sense) double dipping. We are also grossly underpaid for the amount of work and the level of qualifications, so I can't really fault someone for this, but it is double dipping.

Second, we don't get much for books. We do give them away for cheap.

Re:Seems fair to me. (4, Insightful)

Sir_Dill (218371) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609147)

Another way to think about it is this.

I have already paid for it to be produced because my tax dollars funded the work.

Since digital replication is essentially free, there are no ongoing production costs for a digital edition beyond the initial work and annual updates (which one would assume are covered by additional public funding)

Sure you can argue that bandwidth costs money, and disk space costs money, but the reality is that the cost per unit is so low, it would cost more in transaction fees than the actual cost resulting in a net loss on the transaction.

I am more than happy to cover the printing costs on a hard copy provided they are the actual printing costs and not some inflated figure that the publisher wants to charge

Say what you want about e-readers, eventually they will supplant books in mainstream society. I am not saying that it's going to happen in this or the next generation but perhaps in three generations we may see people who will prefer an electronic book to the "real thing".

Just like there are folks who like to dress up in victorian era clothing, there will always be people who prefer "real books" to an e-book.

Bottom line, we are with ebooks very close to where we were with MP3's a decade ago.

They (MP3's) did not really gain popularity until the devices to play them became readily available and affordable.

Until we can make the jump to digital textbooks, regardless of where the money comes from, I don't think changing the licensing is going to make enough of the difference to shift the paradigm to more affordable/available textbooks.

Besides, it doesn't matter if you read the material or did the coursework. If you don't pay for the privilege of going to school, you don't get a degree and it doesn't change the statistics one bit.

Re:Seems fair to me. (5, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609301)

Of course we can all thank our corrupt congress critters for that.

Which is why there is precisely zero chance that this bill will pass.

This is the best type of bill: one that's put forward because someone sees that something being done now could be done in a better way. But publishers have lobbyists and cash, and those always trump the public interest in the US House of Representatives.

Re:Seems fair to me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29609313)

If the public pays for the research and creation they should have access to the intellectual product for no additional fee

My thoughts exactly. If it's paid for by public funds (taxes and such) then it should be freely available to the public as well.

-----
Play 3D Sexvilla 2 ? Show off your main character! [slashdot.org]

Yep (5, Insightful)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608701)

Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?"

Yep. That's why it'll never pass - expect large amounts of money to flow into key campaign coffers to put an end to this nonsense before it gets started. At some point we need to have congressmen who aren't bought and paid for by special interests.

By the way - for those of you who say "yeah, but this open source stuff is a special interest, too", no, it isn't. It's a *general interest*. It benefits everybody but a select few, rather than benefiting a select few at the expense of everybody else.

Re:Yep (1)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608849)

Its about time for an open-source Congress.

Every single congressman's office should have a live audio/video feed on the web.

We need to change the culture of Washington.

Right now it is a secretive place where powerful people make shady deals for their own personal profit and act like they are entitled to it.

It needs to become an open place where public servants actually SERVE the public.

Obviously the live video feed idea can be easily circumvented, but it would go a long way toward reminding them WTF they are SUPPOSED to be doing there.

Re:Yep (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608997)

You mean like C-SPAN where you can watch congress debate but its so annoyingly boring that no one watches it?

Re:Yep (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609193)

Prior to CSPAN the Congress used to actually sit on the floor. After CSPAN they started hiding behind closed doors. So really CPSAN didn't reveal government - it just drove it underground.

What we REALLY need to do is ban all contributions except those that come from registered voters. If you're not a voter, you can't donate to a Congresscritter's campaign. That would eliminate bribes from corporations which skew our system.

Re:Yep (1)

HogGeek (456673) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609255)

"What we REALLY need to do is ban all contributions except those that come from registered voters. If you're not a voter, you can't donate to a Congresscritter's campaign. That would eliminate bribes from corporations which skew our system."

Nice idea, but Corps would just give money to employees, who would then "donate" it to the Congress criitter. I suspect this already happens...

Re:Yep (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609517)

And screws up their taxes, or the IRS comes knocking about unpaid taxes on all those transfers of tens of thousands of dollars.

Re:Yep (3, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609343)

That & removing corporate citizenship would go a long way to fixing about 1/2 the problems with this country.

Slightly more on topic, I wish this bill had been passed last year, would have saved my girlfriend about $600 in books for this semester.  She couldn't even get them used because for some reason, books that have already been registered aren't usable for her classes.  Shade of Stallman's "Right to Read" I tell you!

Re:Yep (2, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609307)

You mean like C-SPAN where you can watch congress debate but its so annoyingly boring that no one watches it?

C-span is awesome if you know when to watch. Most bills and debates are exceedingly boring but there are many which were the exact opposite. I skipped work to watch the debate on the $700 billion banking take over bill. Recently I watched the hearing on HR1207, which is a bill to audit the federal reserve. It was entertaining watching some congressmen, like Alan Grayson grill these officials.

They always have public officials on for call-ins. Recently Michael Chertoff was on and was asked amazing questions for 10 minutes before they stopped taking calls. It was the first time I've seen them stop questions so early as the usual format is 10 minutes with the host, then 50 minutes of calls.

One of my favorite youtube channels was CSPAN Junkie, but it was taken down under dubious reasons in early August. It had 1000's of videos of great clips only from C-SPAN.

Re:Yep or rather, No. (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608885)

You forget that to qualify, it must be:

  1. educational material.
  2. published or produced using federal funds.

A publisher can produce educational material without using federal funds and keep all the rights in addition to everything that doesn't fall under the educational material category.

Re:Yep (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608897)

Yep. That's why it'll never pass - expect large amounts of money to flow into key campaign coffers to put an end to this nonsense before it gets started.

I wasn't aware that the book publishing industry was swimming in as much cash as Hollywood or Microsoft...

At some point we need to have congressmen who aren't bought and paid for by special interests.

So why aren't you voting for one?

Re:Yep (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609071)

I wasn't aware that the book publishing industry was swimming in as much cash as Hollywood or Microsoft...

Have you not looked at the price of college textbooks? They take about the same materiel as their first edition 20, 30 years ago, "update" it, rearrange some chapters and sell it for $100+. On top of that many books don't even try to be unbiased or even care for the facts. All they need is three guys who have spent enough money on college degrees and they then have a book.

So why aren't you voting for one?

Who says he wasn't? The fact is the US has a very very very broken voting system. It basically narrows every single race down to two parties at most. Even if 5% of the US population believes in something chances are slim that they will even have one vote in congress. We need congressional elections similar to the EU parliament elections where parties get membership based on the % of votes or a smaller federal government. I don't see the second happening anytime soon at least not when Obama controls the white house. So please tell me how you are supposed to get a 3rd party into congress?

Re:Yep (4, Interesting)

digsbo (1292334) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609195)

First Hand Evidence: I had a textbook for a music theory class that was two years old. It was IDENTICAL to the current edition; they were switching two chapters in the front of the book every year as a means of planned obsolescence, so as long as you had an odd-year printed book during an odd year (or even/even) you were ok.

Re:Yep (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609231)

>>>>similar to the EU parliament elections where parties get membership based on the % of votes

Really??? I thought the EU parliament operated exactly the same as Congress - direct election of the man (or woman) you want to represent your district.

Depressing (2, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609571)

I thought the EU parliament operated exactly the same as Congress - direct election of the man (or woman) you want to represent your district.

Each EU country can choose among systems. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_elections#Voting_system [wikipedia.org]
Almost all use variants on the crappy list system, where you vote for a party, and the party list is usually headed by a bunch of sleazy vampires who would be unelectable as individuals. The list system also results in a really weak link between voters and the elected elite. Arguably, it's as bad as the first-past-the-post system used in US congressional elections and UK parliamentary elections - gerrymandering is no longer needed, being replaced by list precedence, which is determined by internal party machinations. In EU elections, Ireland and Northern Ireland use the much better transferrable vote system, which gives almost as proportional result as the list system, but keeps a strong link between voters and their elected representatives, all of whom are elected as individuals. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_Transferable_Vote [wikipedia.org]

Re:Yep (2, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609427)

We need congressional elections similar to the EU parliament elections where parties get membership based on the % of votes or a smaller federal government.

Why do you want to give private organizations a given fraction of parliament? Parliament should represent people, not parties, and anyone who tells you that their MP is too incompetent to represent their constituents is telling you their MP needs to be replaced. Representational democracy has worked for centuries without anything like the level of partisan capture that exists today, so claims that there are unsolvable problems with it just reflect the ignorance or malicious intent of the person making the argument.

The world needs less partisan representation, and electoral reform won't get off the ground until the people pushing it realize that the only effective reform will be one that reduces partisan power, not increases it by embedding the existence of parties in the electoral process. I realize that the parties are already deeply embedded in the electoral process in the US, which is one of the main reasons why the American electoral system is so much more broken than virtually anywhere else in the world.

Electoral reforms have been raised in several Canadian provinces in recent years, and while none of them have passed the proposals in British Columbia, which were less partisan, came a lot closer than the insanely partisan system Ontario voters were presented with.

Re:Yep (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609587)

you that their MP is too incompetent to represent their constituents is telling you their MP needs to be replaced.

Yes, but the fact is its nearly impossible to do that in the US. The two parties republican and democrats are two sides of the same coin. Both aim for A) Increasing governmental power B) Decreasing consumer choice C) Having taxes that don't benefit you and D) Preserving their own power. If you believe in a much smaller government, either a more controlled or more free market, tax reform or any number of various issues contrary to republicans and democrats you have -no- representation at all. Not even a single member.

Re:Yep (4, Interesting)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609447)

"sell it for $100+"
I see you haven't been in college in awhile. $100 is fucking cheap. Book now are at LEAST $175. Books that might actually be useful after college (some are great for reference) are $225 and up. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest here. That's literally what they cost.

Every new addition has slightly different problem sets and the chapters are rearranged quite a lot. If you've ever taken a look at a book in its 10th or high edition you'll notice that the professor's syllabus for the book is "chapters: 5,4,8,9,1,15" IN THAT ORDER. This is because the first few editions of the book were laid out logically and the updates had significant content. After a few revisions, there isn't much to change and therefore no reason to buy the book. They go ahead and rearrange chapters so that attempting to use an old book will result in lots of confusion when trying to find the homework chapters/reading/problems.

Profs. hate this just as much as the students do because they have to constantly rework their syllabus to fit the new chapters. This results in the profs wanting to use the same edition book for years and years. The book publishers figured out that this is impossible if they stop publishing their old editions. Thus, profs can't require the old book because there's nowhere to buy it.

Textbook publishers are swimming in so much cash that it's fucking absurd. It should actually be criminal. Seriously, criminal. I would support a law that required educational textbooks to be placed in the public domain after the original author stops publishing them (and of course define a minimum publishing quantity). There would be plenty of people that would publish and sell these "old" books just above cost.
This would solve everything actually. Textbook publishers would have to add content to their books for people to want to buy the newest editions... what a shocking concept.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the shitty "online content" that comes bundles with a lot of these books. It's either a CD that has some animations (software is windows only, of course) or, more recently, an "online access code" that gives you the ability to access a few animations/problems online. The CD isn't going to work in a few years because it won't support the new OS, the internet code is only good for a semester. In either case, it's just a scam to add another $20-40 to the overall price of the book.

Re:Yep (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609097)

I wasn't aware that the book publishing industry was swimming in as much cash as Hollywood or Microsoft...

I'm not even going to look for the profits of the big four textbook publishers. Paying over two-hundred bucks for a text and only getting fifty back from the bookstore(even if the book is unmarked and in pristine condition) while educational institutions' staff often collude and require the latest edition (which only switches around a couple chapters and problems). That is fucking dirty, dirty shit on both sides. They can go fuck themselves.

Okay, so that is just the worst-case scenario (damed if I buy books that way, if at all), but it happens often. I'm all for ending those ridiculous text fees for students. And your voting comment is ridiculous (no need to explain why) -- you must not be from the U.S.

Obama claims to want to bolster educational aid and I think that's a magnificent idea - but only time will tell if he's able to accomplish this or if it's just feel-good bullshit. Pardon the passion, I'm just living that reality right now. Fortunately, there are plenty of good torrents out there...

Re:Yep (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609137)

> I wasn't aware that the book publishing industry was swimming in as much
> cash as Hollywood...

Actually Hollywood is pretty small potatoes by Washington standards. The reason you hear so much about them is that being heard about is their business. The textbook publishing industry is even smaller. Sure, Congress will give in to them on this if no one else speaks up: why not? But it would take very little to outshout them.

Of course, the best solution would be to get government entirely out of education...

Re:Yep (1)

rainmaestro (996549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609433)

http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-05-806 [gao.gov]

For those who don't want to read the report, this GAO study from 2003-2004 indicated that college textbooks were a 6 *billion* dollar industry, plus another several billion for K-12.

This industry has a lot of weight to throw around when it comes to pressuring congressmen.

Re:Yep (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29608917)

Just what we need...a bunch of easily hackable books and government applications. Open source means HACKABLE people. Wise up to the word for God's sake! Who do you think developed the open source concept? That's right...HACKERS. Dirty, no good HACKERS. It's deplorable that this is even being discussed. Everything we love and care about is at stake.

Re: Hackers (1)

jimwelch (309748) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609289)

Did you forget to attach the sarcasm tag?
To quote "The Princess Bride", "You keep using that word (hacker). I do not think it means what you think it means."

  • The correct word is cracker. Hacker is just a programmer.
  • Changing the [program, books, picure] IS the point of the open source license.
  • A CC http://creativecommons.org/ [creativecommons.org] license book will:
    • Save Time - Update a book - not rewrite it just so YOU have a copyright.
    • Save Money - Download and burn a CD or flash drive full of books - cheap
    • Save Environment: Less trees, Less Energy to Produce
    • Produce Regional/Localize versions as needed. - State History, City History, meet weird guidelines.
    • Remove Power from small committees of BIG states in determining what is in a textbook: Cal. Texas, NY, etc.

Re: Hackers (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609401)

The correct word is cracker. Hacker is just a programmer.

I do not think it means what you think it means. A "hacker" is not "just a programmer". You can be a hacker without programming. It's actually "anyone who takes things apart to learn how they work and then make them do something else."

Changing the [program, books, picure] IS the point of the open source license.

No, the point of open source is having the source. Changing the source is one aspect, but simply having free access to the source allows one to understand the "program" better (for computer source) or reformat it or use it in other media (not "changing") for open source texts.

A CC http://creativecommons.org/ [creativecommons.org] license book will: Remove Power from small committees of BIG states in determining what is in a textbook: Cal. Texas, NY, etc.

I don't know where you get this idea from. The open source California books were vetted by the state committee, just like any paper book. State departments of education will still mandate which textbooks will be used, whether they are paper or electrons. If you mean that local teachers will "update" the official textbooks, well, they already can provide extra material for printed books, and I don't know that I want local teachers "updating" the textbooks anyway. In fact, having them "update" an e-textbook means they can make it say whatever they want and it will still have the official stamp of approval from the state or local school board.

Re: Hackers (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609545)

It's actually "anyone who takes things apart to learn how they work and then make them do something else."

Actually, it's anyone who does the above maliciously. Yes, I know you all want that to be the definition of "cracker." Unfortunately that's not how language works.

Long overdue (2, Insightful)

tomkost (944194) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608717)

Basic K-12 and Undergrad materials and course work do not change that much. Why shouldn't there be open source materials available? If they are publicly funded in any way, it should have been a requirement long ago. I for one used to refuse to sell my books back to the store for pennies on the dollar. It was always better to keep them or give to another student. With open source, more people could afford to go to university.

Don't know, don't care (5, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608727)

Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?

If you accept public money, you have to accept public obligations. I'd have no sympathy for a publisher that received federal funding but disliked the conditions put on it.

Taste the cock (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29608929)

fag...

Re:Don't know, don't care (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608983)

...but disliked the conditions put on it.

Don't accept the public funds and obligation then?

No is saying all educational material has to be publicly funded. No one is saying the owners of privately funded educational material can't do what the want with it.

Re:Don't know, don't care (2, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609149)

Exactly! GM accepted bailout money and became Government Motors. Ford didn't like the conditions and didn't accept the money. That funding might look attractive, but don't take the gift if you dislike the strings attached to it.

A Narrow Scope (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608739)

Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?

Don't think so since the scope of what is covered, educational materials published or produced using federal funds, is fairly narrow.

Public Domain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29608743)

How about just putting them in the public domain, like everything else the US Government does?

Re:Public Domain? (1, Flamebait)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608969)

Actually - if you sit down and study most text books, you will realize that most of the content is indeed public domain. English, math, geography, whatever - copyright trolls are publishing nothing new. It isn't like they are researching a new field, and publishing original work. They sift knowledge that is public domain, reprint old, common knowledge, and try to pass it off as unique. In reality, the only thing that might be unique about them, is when some liberal group like the GLBT manage to insert left wing indoctrination material into a text book. None of that trash belongs in education anyway, and the group responsible should be raked over the coals for the attempt.

Education, by definition, is open source.

Re:Public Domain? (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609169)

Education, by definition, is open source.

I agree. Even more so when the compilation of the material used for it's purpose is funded by the public. Now if someone wants to privately fund a compilation of the material and charge for it, fine.

Re:Public Domain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29609455)

It's stupid to assume that there is no value in writing.

But this is slashdot, after all, so why should I be surprised....

Textbook Scam (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608745)

Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?"

I certainly hope so! The kid just started college and the whole textbook scam came back to me when we priced books!!!

Re:Textbook Scam (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608891)

Well, faculty acquiesce in the scam too. We:
  1. Require specific textbooks for our courses.
  2. Assign reading based on a specific book rather than based on the material to be learned.
  3. Assign problems by reference to the book so the student can't know what the homework problems are without a copy of the book.

I consciously try to avoid these problems in my courses, but that is far from typical, and not always possible. Assigning problems directly out of textbooks is the the main facilitator for "edition creep": the publishers keep publishing new editions where they simply adjust the problems. Students could learn the material fine from the old edition, but they must have the newest edition in order to solve the correct "problem 7 on page 53".

Re:Textbook Scam (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609163)

A good response that a lot of colleges are doing is placing course textbooks in the college library on reserve (which means they can't be checked out but can be read and photocopied in the library for an hour or so). Just that makes it at least possible for students to manage without buying the textbooks.

But it is a complete scam, no question. Among other things, most textbooks are not written by their purported authors.

Re:Textbook Scam (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609489)

You require specific textbooks, there isn't a problem there. Could you imagine teaching a course by saying "Everyone bring in some kind of physics textbook"?
The problem is the fucking publishers stop publishing the old editions.

Not worried... (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608759)

Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?

And if it does, then what?

It's not the government's job to protect particular business models or industries from technological innovation. It's also not particularly the government's job, in my opinion, to go out of its way to give money to private companies without a compelling public interest. Even before open source licenses were commonplace, I would have argued that any intellectual property generated with public funds should automatically be put into the public domain. Making it open source is a possible alternative, but if materials are generated with my tax dollars, I shouldn't generally have to pay again to use them.

Re:Not worried... (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609089)

I didn't care for the original question. Why not ask:

How much does the recently expanded practice of locking up textbooks endanger public education, and the nation's ability to innovate?

The original question slants things so many ways. One slant is the presumption that locking up textbooks is the status quo. Seems one way these lobbyists get changes made is argue that a change really isn't a change but a return to an earlier state of affairs, or a shoring up of existing intent. The knee jerk reaction is always opposition to change. Another slant is the focusing on the publishers and the casting of them as potential victims. What about the children? Think of the children!

Re:Not worried... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609583)

Well also these sorts of questions always seem to be framed in the idea that something that will hurt a particular industry will "harm the economy", in that it will be an industry not profiting and therefore not paying taxes and not generating jobs. However, this ignores that all the money previously spent on textbooks will now be freed up to be spent on other things.

So if we had open source textbooks (assuming the quality didn't suffer), we'd not have those textbooks essentially for free, plus extra money to spend on whatever other industries we want. Those sorts of gains in efficiency is what makes economies grow. Add in the potential gains it would have for education and making education cheaper and more available, and it could be a huge benefit to our society as a whole.

Re:Not worried... (5, Insightful)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609325)

It's not the government's job to protect particular business models or industries from technological innovation.

I'm in the:

  • Steel
  • Automotive
  • Banking
  • Farming
  • Airline
  • Fishing
  • Teaching
  • Semiconductor
  • Defense

industries you insensitive clod!

Seems like a good idea but strange motivations (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608777)

At a philosophical level, this is a really good idea. There's no good reason that taxpayer money should go to things which aren't available to taxpayers. This is the same logic as making publicly funded research need to appear openly. However I'm puzzled a bit by the summary:

The reasoning behind it takes into account the changing way information is distributed because of the Internet, the high price of college and textbooks, and the dangerously low college graduation rates in the US

The fraction of the population that has gone to college had been steadily increasing over the last 50 years. One major result of that is that what constitutes a college education has in many ways been reduced. There are good and bad arguments about what has happened with college education over the last few years but there's no plausible way to describe the college graduation rate as dangerously low unless one thinks that a priori everyone should graduate college like everyone should graduate high school. That's not an easy case to make.

Re:Seems like a good idea but strange motivations (4, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609103)

There are good and bad arguments about what has happened with college education over the last few years but there's no plausible way to describe the college graduation rate as dangerously low unless one thinks that a priori everyone should graduate college like everyone should graduate high school. That's not an easy case to make.

This is not even to mention the fact that the only reason a college degree ever meant anything in the first place is the not everyone was capable of getting one. This is because college was hard, and you had to be of above average intelligence to be able to graduate. To make college so that everyone can graduate, you need to dumb down the material significantly, so the truly gifted get screwed twice -- 1) Their degree means nothing because everyone else had one and 2) they got a lousy education because the professors had to simplify everything so that the dumbasses could pass.

Good trade-off (1)

l2718 (514756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608783)

We should offer textbook writers a trade-off:
  • If the public pays for the writing of the textbook, the textbook should be released under a free license. This doesn't preclude the author selling copies.
  • If the author pays for the writing of the textbook, the author should get a monopoly on the printing of the textbook to recoup his investment.

Either is fine by me. If the public opts for the discount by paying up-front, they shouldn't be forced to also pay via the instalment plan.

Killing publishers (5, Insightful)

FuegoFuerte (247200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608793)

Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?

We can only hope it will kill the publishers, the way they've been killing US college kids for years. Do you think college kids would eat such a steady diet of ramen noodles if they weren't spending all their money on textbooks? Have you ever compared the cost of textbooks in the US to the SAME books overseas? Take a look at amazon.co.uk sometime and compare a textbook there to the same book in the US. The only difference is likely that one says "international version" on the cover. Oh, and it'll be less than half the price.

No, a bill such as this won't endanger publishing companies... publishing companies have endangered themselves by pissing off their customers with insanely high pricing. Maybe something like this would finally bring competition to the textbook industry and help make school a little more affordable.

Re:Killing publishers (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608905)

The other problem is these companies just LOVE to release new editions of textbooks with slightly modified question numbers.

Fortunately some of my college professors would simply photocopy the questions for us realizing this insanity.

Re:Killing publishers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29609577)

Oh, that's nothing. In one textbook was a prominently-displayed page inside the front cover and on the back that directed students to a fancy website where students could answer practice questions from the end of each chapter. What a great idea, except that roughly 20% of the answers were WRONG. I had to specifically tell the students not to do the questions on-line, because they would be misled.

That's the kind of "quality" that exists in $100+ textbooks and the supporting materials.

Re:Killing publishers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29608955)

Do you think college kids would eat such a steady diet of ramen noodles if they weren't spending all their money on textbooks?

No, they'd be drinking more beer.

Think of the breweries, you insensitive clod!

Re:Killing publishers (2, Informative)

Adaeniel (1315637) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609173)

Take a look at amazon.co.uk sometime and compare a textbook there to the same book in the US. The only difference is likely that one says "international version" on the cover. Oh, and it'll be less than half the price.

So, I took your advice and just did a few comparisons:

March's Advanced Organic Chemistry: Reactions, Mechanisms, and Structure. $79.31 and £73.10
Modern Physical Organic Chemistry: $114.00 and £66.49
Classics in Total Synthesis: $90.18 and £61.75

In my case, two of the books are more expensive in the United Kingdom and one is less expensive. I know this might not hold true in all cases, but I don't think the main problem is price gauging. What was always a pain for friends of mine was constant edition updates and the professors that required new editions. A buyer is no longer able to buy a used book when a new edition comes out, and if a new edition was printed they are unable to sell their book back to any bookstores.

Re:Killing publishers (1)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609179)

Have you ever compared the cost of textbooks in the US to the SAME books overseas? Take a look at amazon.co.uk sometime and compare a textbook there to the same book in the US. The only difference is likely that one says "international version" on the cover. Oh, and it'll be less than half the price.

And it'll be a paperback that'll fall apart before the end of the semester. You're better off buying used at 75% MSRP & selling back for 50% of the MSRP* than buying international for 50% MSRP and selling back for $0.

*If your lazy teachers bothered to tell the bookstore that they'd be using the book again next semester. Less if they didn't, of course.

Why not everything created with federal dollars? (4, Insightful)

edrobinson (976396) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608815)

Seems to me that anything - books, medical procedures and devices, pharmaceuticals, etc. - belong to the public and we should not have to pay for them...

Re:Why not everything created with federal dollars (1)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608873)

The troll is strong in you.

Yes, if publicly funded books have open source requirements, it'll be the same as Communism. Or Socialism. Or whatever it is Fox News tells you to be scared of.

Re:Why not everything created with federal dollars (3, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609069)

Seems to me that anything - books, medical procedures and devices, pharmaceuticals, etc. - belong to the public and we should not have to pay for them...

Whoa -- not so fast. The government usually pays for fundamental research, and when it does the public should be able to freely use the fruits of the research. This means the right to read the research papers, see the data, and use any resulting inventions (i.e. practice resulting patents). However, getting from the fundamental research to the actual product usually requires more investment that is not government-funded -- and unless we make it possible for the people who put up the capital for this stage to profit they will not invest.

For a hypothetical, assume that NIH-funded doctors discover that a particular plant extract improves survival rates from heart disease. They should have to make their research article freely available to the public (probably after a year's delay allowing research journals to profit -- this is to fund the refereeing system). They should also have to make their data available to the public so we can check the results. Note however, that knowing that the extract is useful is not the same as having a life-saving drug. Someone has to come up with an industrial process to manufacture the drug, establish appropriate dosages and safety levels and so on. Every drug company (they are members of the public too!) should be able to now use this publicly available knowledge to try make a drug. If they succeed we should give them patent protection for a while so they can recover the investment in their part of the work. Other drug companies should be able to use the public knowledge too, as long as they invent new drugs.

Re:Why not everything created with federal dollars (1)

edrobinson (976396) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609265)

Sorry, it did look a bit overboard.
Your are correct in that the drug company should be compensated for their costs in bringing a drug to market. But, really, don't you feel that they go way overboard to the point of gouging the public. We are all entitled to compensation for our efforts but there is a limit especially if we paid for the foundation work. Patent protection does not mean thousands of $ per month for a drug that returns its costs many times over in the first year of a 17 year patent with the remaining 16 years being almost pure profit...

Re:Why not everything created with federal dollars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29609437)

By saying it is created by Federal funds, you are saying you HAVE paid for it. The Federal Government doesn't just have money out of nowhere. I can certainly see a case where if the Federal Government pays enough that the product is owned by the Govt and not by private industry that it should be publicly owned. But even if something is publicly owned, that doesn't mean it should be free as in beer, any more than open source is free as in beer. There's still costs involved, and if it's owned by the Feds (and since the Fed's sole source of money is the populace), those costs will be covered by the populace.

The point is not zero cost, much as you foolishly claim, but of zero superfluous cost. Some things that are arguably common knowledge are being repetitively paid for because of naive interpretations of intellectual property laws, other things are not getting appropriately paid for for the same reason. Neither of those is acceptable.

Just as importantly, textbooks are frequently filled with errors. There is even a segment of the publishing industry that specializes in documenting errors. Errors ultimately also come down to superfluous cost, because you need to re-educate the students (either in HE or on the job) and pay for a revised edition of the text rather than just a simple reprint. It also plays into IP as there's no way to obligate a publisher to fix the errors and no way to get schools to buy all the different books necessary to ensure everything can be taught correctly. (They can't cut the pages out of the different texts to build their own books for IP reasons. To do that would indeed require some sort of open source license.)

Money must, ultimately, change hands for textbooks to work, but textbooks that are academically worthless (which is virtually all of them at the moment) are being over-paid for.

Why yes (1)

ZekoMal (1404259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608839)

It endangers their vital revenue of charging several hundred dollars for the same textbook that has a slightly different colored cover, then offering to buy book that book for 1/16 the price of said book before reselling the same book at 15/16 the price. While we can argue that the job of gathering lots of data is very challenging, I find it difficult to believe that the Algebra text books have changed so drastically ever year that they needed $100 on each new edition to cover research. Unless they are quite literally copyrighting each text in such a way that they can't use the prior text for more than a school year, there is no reason for this constant rehashing of the same book.

I doubt this will pass, though. High chance it'll be shot down, and then a new bill will slip through that strengthens the stranglehold publishers have on education.

Not sure I see the point (1)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608841)

I'm a little unclear what qualifies textbooks this would actually impact. I can't think of any books that would be "educational materials produced using federal funds". The textbooks I had in university didn't contain any research material that would have been federally funded--how much new stuff is in a first year physics or calculus book? For that matter, even my senior E&M textbook didn't have anything particularly new. Does the government actually provide grants specifically targeted to providing educational materials? For my money, the big issue is access to *research* publications that were supported by federal tax dollars. Otherwise, I just can't find a good example where this would have a meaningful impact.

They exist ... (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609141)

I have no idea how many might be out there (hopefully, this bill will result in them being easier to find), but I know that IMLS [imls.gov] (Institute of Museum and Library Services) and NSF (National Science Foundation) gives grants for writing curriculum. There was a talk at last year's ASIS&T meeting [asis.org] about the work done so far on a series of modules that teachers could use to build curriculum for digital libraries classes [vt.edu] . (either from the Library or Comp. Sci side of things).

It's also pretty common for educational materials to be developed as parts of other funding. I think there were guidelines for all of NASA programs to spend 2% of their budget on EPO (Education and Public Outreach). Much of it's available on the internet, but there might've been other materials made, too.

"Endagers"? No! Changes, yes! (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608843)

The car "endagered" the horse industry the same way the book publishing industry is endangered by the internet. And to be fair, book publishers and newspapers endangered the bards and town criers! There comes a time for older techs to be displaced by newer, more appropriate tech.

It's sad that book makers would be relegated to the competitive manufacture and distribution of printed materials and will no longer be able to rake in enormous monopolistic profits from controlling copyrights... really sad. But the copyright business needs to always keep in mind that their "copyright" is an intellectual property granted to them NOT by natural law, but by the law of the state and by the will of the people. When it no longer suits the will of the people, the copyright "business" is subject to changes in the business. For too long, the copyright industry has been abusing the people and paying legislators for laws that grant them even more control and advantage. Showing the industry that things can be taken away will not only serve the interests of the people, but will remind the industry that they are INDEED operating at the will of the people and when the ire of the people is eventually raised, their entire busines model may come crumbling down.

Two ways of doing things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29608861)

The traditional book is published on speculation for a demand and then sold. It is published at a loss until enough copies are sold.
I presume this work on open books would be paid production then opening the product for use by anyone. So the writer makes money up front for producing the material. The material is then produced at cost and available to all.

The savings to the "system" here is that the books themselves are not produced with a profit factor to cover the losses in other books that do not meet the sales targets.
The key here is the paid production of the material. Which allows the actual sales to be at cost and the material to be distributed for free.

This is how federally funded scientific projects should work. Rather than have federally funded science end up making profit for private corporations and costing citizens more to buy.

Public funding, public access (1)

stickmaster_flex (1531345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608875)

"Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?" God I hope so. I remember being in classes where we had to buy brand new text books because they just released a new edition, and by the end of the semester we couldn't sell them back because- you guessed it- they had released another edition. And I was a history major, I pity the poor fools in subjects that actually change substantially year to year. These publishing companies have far too comfortable relationships with universities, especially public universities.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29608907)

I'm just finish college right now, and I haven't bought a book for the past three years. Books for both my majors--Molecular Biology and Mathematics--usually cost about $100-$175, but you can always find them on reserve at the library, or easily downloadable online. When a new class, everyone who has the online copy will post a MU or RS link online for the rest of us to get the book. The only people that buy books are those that have ridiculous amounts of money to spend, or are too stupid to use the internet or school libraries to get their studying done.

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

PeterM from Berkeley (15510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609485)

It's been some time since I graduated, but keeping my books is, to me anyway, an important part of keeping the skills I learned in school. A digital copy that I have perpetual rights to would be great, but a reserve copy in the library may not work at all after a while.

I usually can find stuff in my old textbooks really fast if I need to brush up on it or use it. Without my books I'm a bit handicapped.

--PeterM

If college graduation rates are so low ... (3, Funny)

TheABomb (180342) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608915)

... wouldn't their advanced education put the few and far between college grads at the forefront of our already-too-tight job market? (I better hit "submit" before my boss catches me and I lose my minimum-wage temp job.)

arg (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608941)

Copyright was intended to "encourage the arts" not grant special rights to publishers over works that were funded by the public. All publicly funded information should be in the public domain. If publishers don't like it then boo hoo. The only reason they even get copyright rights in the first place is that we, the public, gave them those rights and we are very well within our power to take them away for works that we funded.

Great idea, but... (4, Interesting)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29608949)

This is a laudable notion, but it has a huge loophole: how do we determine that the time an author spent working on a book was funded by the government? Consider a university scientist on an NSF grant. Such a scientist is typically paid salary off the grant for two months per year, with nine months paid in university salary, and one month not at all. The scientist files grant progress reports every year indicating what she did with the grant money, aside from surfing porn [slashdot.org] . If she doesn't want to open-source a book, she simply doesn't claim it as a grant-related activity, and instead publishes it for-profit and keeps the royalties.

I suspect that this will only result in academic books being open-sourced which were already published at a loss, for example by university presses. Anything likely to make a substantial profit will still be closed source.

Re:Great idea, but... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609227)

how do we determine that the time an author spent working on a book was funded by the government?

By looking at the grant purpose.

I don't know of any NSF grants that go towards writing textbooks. Or ONR. If it isn't part of the grant, the grant isn't paying for it.

This is an important concern for post-docs. Post-docs are paid for, in most cases, by grants. Grants don't pay for writing grants. Thus, legally, post-docs cannot write grant applications because 100% of their time is paid to do research.

That's why some places are creating "institutional post-docs" where the salary comes partly from the college, so the post-doc can learn how to write grant applications while he's still a post-doc and not a brand new professor who is expected to be successful at grant writing.

If she doesn't want to open-source a book, she simply doesn't claim it as a grant-related activity,...

You mean if he doesn't want to have his grants audited and renewals denied, he doesn't claim non-grant-related activities as "grant progress". And I will point out that women aren't the only ones required to file grant reports.

Re:Great idea, but... (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609367)

I don't know of any NSF grants that go towards writing textbooks. Or ONR. If it isn't part of the grant, the grant isn't paying for it.

I don't know about ONR, but many NSF grants specifically include outreach activities, which might well mean a textbook or a popular science book. And even if the grant criteria do not specifically include such activities, NSF grants are reviewed on twin criteria of (1) intellectual merit, and (2) broader impact. Books could easily be grant-related under the broader impact criterion.

If she doesn't want to open-source a book, she simply doesn't claim it as a grant-related activity,...

You mean if he doesn't want to have his grants audited and renewals denied, he doesn't claim non-grant-related activities as "grant progress". And I will point out that women aren't the only ones required to file grant reports.

I think our hypothetical scientist is suffering from a serious case of gender confusion.

Can we perhaps agree that s/he is a tranny?

Re:Great idea, but... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609531)

I think our hypothetical scientist is suffering from a serious case of gender confusion.

I think that english covers the case of "subject gender unspecified" well enough without trying to pretend that there is some "gender confusion" involved. The only gender confusion I can see is on the part of the /. author.

Can we perhaps agree that s/he is a tranny?

I don't know what a 's/he' is. I know what 'he' means, I know what 'she' means. Referring to this unspecified professor as "she" is saying something that isn't true.

Re:Great idea, but... (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609575)

I don't know what a 's/he' is. I know what 'he' means, I know what 'she' means. Referring to this unspecified professor as "she" is saying something that isn't true.

+1 Excellent sense of humor.

Corporate welfare (1)

shogarth (668598) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609009)

Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?

If the book was authored using federal funding, then publishers should not expect any level of protection; it isn't their work (or rather their "work-for-hire") to begin with. Any copyright protection to the publisher in this case should be based on that entity purchasing the rights from the funding agency (ideally at a valuation based on estimated future sales). If they have been getting a better deal than that, then it's just a case of federally-funded corporate welfare.

Non sequitur (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609025)

> Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies...

Sure. So what?

> ...in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?

This implies that you equate "traditional journalism" with newspaper publishing. Journalism and publishing are two different things. Journalism is about news and opinion. It is vibrantly alive on the Net. Publishing is about manufacturing and distributing pieces of paper with ink on them. It is obsolete.

Pattern here. (5, Insightful)

TheWizardTim (599546) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609031)

I noticed a pattern here with Congress.

Step One. Propose a law that would hurt an industry.
Step Two. Receive large campaign donations to stop that law.
Step Three. ???
Step Four. Re-election!

Re:Pattern here. (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609257)

You know, that actually makes a lot of sense. I'm surprised I haven't heard more people bring that up before. I'd give you another mod point if I hadn't already posted.

Re:Pattern here. (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609333)

Funny, if I were elected to office I'd bypass steps two and three. I guess that's why I'm not a politician.

Re:Pattern here. (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609463)

I noticed a pattern here with Congress.

Step One. Propose a law that would hurt an industry.
Step Two. Receive large campaign donations to stop that law.
Step Three. ???
Step Four. Re-election!

I never thought of it that way. So they are extorting big business while simultaneously cock-teasing the little guy...That's depressing.

No... (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609045)

Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?"

No. The Internet has not done away with paper mills, printers, journalism, Hollywood, Broadway, telephone, schools, office buildings, dedicated computer clusters, data centers etc. etc.

There is a use and reason for the Internet, there is also a use and reason for all the 'traditional' stuff. You can do a lot of 'traditional' stuff on the Internet, doesn't mean you should and doesn't mean everybody will. Even I, born and raised in the Internet age prefer 'traditional' media over the Internet for some things.

Endanger is irrelevant. You will be assimilated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29609075)

Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?

Yes. All irrelevant companies are irrelevant. Kill them quickly and silently, bury them deeply, and rest assured that nothing of value was lost.

Write your elected officials in support! (4, Informative)

whistlingtony (691548) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609091)

Hey all,

Just remember, saying you're all for it on an internet forum doesn't actually do anything... Write your elected officials in support of S.1714, the "Open College Textbook Act of 2009". Here are some links, just in case you're THAT lazy....

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml [usa.gov]
https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml [house.gov]
http://takeaction.lwv.org/lwv/dbq/officials/ [lwv.org]

Remember to get the senate AND the house.

-T

Short & Long Answer (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609093)

Will a bill such as this endanger publishing companies in the same way Internet journalism endangers traditional journalism?

Short Answer: Yes.
Long Answer: Yes, but some bright spark will come along, figure out a way to make a metric shit-tonne of money from it and blaze the path for other companies to follow. It's how capitalism is supposed to work.

Endangers? Hopefully (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29609115)

Text books are 2-5% or our school districts budget and they suck. First more than half the teachers in the district have to go off book just to cover everything in the state standards adequately and the better teachers barely use the books for more than problem sets. The text book market has fallen so far to meet common denominators that the books lack focus and depth. Our high school history book spends more time on Jefferson's liaison with a slave than on Nixon let alone Watergate. It is hard to justify the the costs of the traditional text book market (pandering to the Texas and California markets, artificially high prices, need to replace every 5-10 yrs) to our taxpayers especially if they have already paid once as part of their federal taxes to develop these pieces of tripe.

We can only hope so. (1)

strangeattraction (1058568) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609157)

Did some work for a publisher back in the 90's before CD-R's replaced books. The Publisher which will remain nameless but has initials (PH) seemed very concerned about certain content. Namely a particular cartoon Egg character and a male figure wearing a purple shirt. The Egg which had no gender or genitalia need clothes and of course the purple shirt might imply the male was somewhat less than manly. If you think books are too expensive it is because a lot of effort goes into issue such as these.

Endangering them? (1)

Calyth (168525) | more than 4 years ago | (#29609361)

They have been endangering my bank account and my credit rating for years. Half the time they release books that suck, at ridiculous prices, and since the bookstore doesn't have a used copy, I end up paying for the full price.
Textbooks that are worth their sticker price are rare. The majority of the text aren't worth half of that sticker price.

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