TEXTBOOK PRICES: A PROPOSAL FOR FREEWARE
I'm not going to get all reporterly about text books on y'all because I don't have the energy or the time. Our classes started this week and all of that Taoism stuff is not quite working as well as it should. But it's nice to wish, and to try to be calmer than usual (and if beginning to get that distant, depressed feeling counts as being "calm", then maybe I'm getting calm with every new day of the nascent semester).
For years I've been fuming about textbook prices and book prices in general. It pisses me off that my students --who are working class-- have to pay 100-150 $ a semester on my literature classes. Granted they are spending at least that if not more in their non-literary disciplines, but it sucks. I have a fantasy about creating a network of PDF "freeware" on-line, where faculty from across this "great" nation could post scanned in, copy-right free texts for classroom use, or just write them and provide them on-line.
I understand that this would not be good for publishers (and what satisfaction or possible reward could there be for faculty who edit content for release on internet or who write original materials?).But the pricing of books is ridiculous. A 250 page small-sized paperback textbook for 70$? A book that no second hand bookstore will want to buy. A book that's crummy like most "textbooks." 70$ That's a crime. It makes my blood boil.
So now enterprising minds are getting on the publish on demand craze, marketing cheap editions of public domain texts for faculty. But why should I line the pockets of those people when I can do the same thing? (Albeit without a shiny cover and such.) I have begun to scan in copy-right free primary texts for my students to use. No bookstore shenanigans. No publisher shenanigans. No copyright persecutions. No nobody getting unfair profits.
But damn it, wait a minute... what hurts academic publishers hurts publishing faculty. I really don't know why I go down these roads. Time for some Taoism.