October 6, 2007
Looks like the Boston State House will be looking into the true value of the multimedia that accompanies textbooks:
State House hearing focuses on costs of college textbooks
A month into the fall semester, Nathassia Torchon has already had two tests in her precalculus class and is approaching her first history exam. But the Massachusetts Bay Community College student said she could not afford the $330 price tag for two of the required textbooks until this week.
“They always tell you 20 hours is good enough to work and go to school full time,” said Torchon, 21, of Mattapan. “I have to work three jobs to pay for two books.”
Also of interest:
Bruce Hildebrand, executive director for higher education with the Association of American Publishers, said one of the most popular college art books is required to be sold with a CD that includes thousands of high-resolution images.
“You take that apart and neither of them will be of any value to anybody,” Hildebrand said.
Full article can be found on here.
I think this is actually a good thing for publishers. Most “media ancillaries” don’t add that much value to the book itself; publishers create them to ensure that each of their books can match up against their competitor’s. (This book has a CD-ROM, and that one doesn’t – ergo this book gets adopted by the school system.)
In reality, the entire package (books, CDs, media, etc) should be judged based on how well they educate students on new concepts, not whether they can close adoptions. However like many industries, the need to close the sale often wins out over the need to demonstrate the effectiveness of the product.