Monday, July 26, 2010

Expensive College Textbooks

The cost of textbooks is an unexpected surprise for most students new to the university. That intro bio book costs me more than $100 - and I have to get it because it's been assigned by the professor? New federal regulations in the US are trying to constrain publishers to limit the cost of college textbooks, but their effectiveness remains to be seen, as discussed by a group of panelists in the NY Times.

Outside the US and the West, the problem may not be as acute because cheaper international editions are available, but academic books are still costly. As I see it, the educators are the ones who will have to make the first step, for example by assigning cheaper trade books, online resources, or referring students to the library. Some may have to forgo a portion of their profits. It can be difficult; after all, a lesson taught entirely 'from the book' is more often than not a mediocre one.

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