Don’t buy that textbook, download it for free

An interesting article in the NY Times on the problems caused by very high textbook prices, and a revolt against traditional academic publishing:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/15/technology/15link.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

I suspect the very low quality of many textbooks — compared to commercial products operating in a free market — is also a factor.

2 thoughts on “Don’t buy that textbook, download it for free

  1. In 1995, when the internet was still young, I argued that textbooks for students ought to be made available for anyone to download. I also argued that if publishers would not do that, it would be done by rogue states like Iraq or Afghanistan, which had not signed the Copyright Convention of Geneva. The latter has not happened, although it would have been perfectly legal, and morally acceptable, to put online the expensive Sobotta Atlas of Human Anatomy outside the CCG zone. I wonder how many medical students in poor countries have unsufficient anatomical knowledge because they were unable to buy the standard textbooks.

  2. In my information management classes I had a professor from Palestine frequently talk about how onerous copyright laws and extremely high prices prevent many developing countries from accessing valuable medical knowledge. Even medical journals that are twenty or thirty years old would be far better than materials some doctors work with. Its very sad.

    University departments are slowly beginning to recognize scholarship that is published in online format, which will hopefully begin to break the grip overpriced journals and textbooks have on the market.

    Tom

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