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Old 04-25-2008, 06:56 PM   #1
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New York Times pushes for digital textbooks

In an editorial of the April 25's New York Times, concerning a congressional bill requiring the sale of "unbundled" textbooks, the Times went one step further in promoting the use of "digital" textbooks as a cost cutting step.

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But colleges and universities will need to embrace new methods of textbook development and distribution if they want to rein in runaway costs. That means using digital textbooks, which can often be presented online free of charge or in hard copies for as little as one-fifth the cost of traditional books. The digital books can also be easily customized and updated.
I think this would be a great step toward promoting ebooks, and possibly shifting the dynamics of publishing in general toward the future.

Read more here

Last edited by Donnageddon; 04-25-2008 at 07:54 PM. Reason: misspelling
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Old 04-25-2008, 08:30 PM   #2
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While I'm all for electronic texts, my most memorable high school and university classes were taught by teachers who assembled their own educational material and didn't rely on a pre-printed textbook.

Of course, back in those days, I still had to pay for the teacher's text by paying a nominal fee to the copy center for a photocopy of it. I wish more teacher's had that kind of devotion to their profession.
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Old 04-25-2008, 08:37 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xianfox View Post
While I'm all for electronic texts, my most memorable high school and university classes were taught by teachers who assembled their own educational material and didn't rely on a pre-printed textbook.

Of course, back in those days, I still had to pay for the teacher's text by paying a nominal fee to the copy center for a photocopy of it. I wish more teacher's had that kind of devotion to their profession.
that seems to me exactly the sort of thing which could be facilitated by using electronic texts, if the teacher were able to distribute digital copies of their material. i also got a lot of photocopies when i was studying ; it would have been brilliant to have had digital versions instead.
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Old 04-25-2008, 08:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xianfox View Post
While I'm all for electronic texts, my most memorable high school and university classes were taught by teachers who assembled their own educational material and didn't rely on a pre-printed textbook.

Of course, back in those days, I still had to pay for the teacher's text by paying a nominal fee to the copy center for a photocopy of it. I wish more teacher's had that kind of devotion to their profession.
Where I went to college the teachers supplemented their income by publishing books the students had to buy. They would put out a revision every few years so you couldn't use used ones. I always went to class before buying the books because occasionally the teacher wouldn't even use the books on the list. Sometimes one was written by the head of the department and the teacher was required to put it on the written list but told us he/she wouldn't be using it.

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Old 04-25-2008, 09:06 PM   #5
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Where I went to college the teachers supplemented their income by publishing books the students had to buy. They would put out a revision every few years so you couldn't use used ones. I always went to class before buying the books because occasionally the teacher wouldn't even use the books on the list. Sometimes one was written by the head of the department and the teacher was required to put it on the written list but told us he/she wouldn't be using it.

Dale
nice racket. of course, everyone knows students are generally rich, so it's not a problem, right ?
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Old 04-26-2008, 03:31 AM   #6
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I never had to buy a single textbook during my degree. When we were assigned questions from a textbook for homework, we would always be given photocopies of the questions. But most of the time our coursework was created by the lecturers and automatically available in a digital format. Nevertheless, I think I greatly benefited from access to ebook versions of just about any textbook I ever wanted.
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Old 04-26-2008, 12:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by xianfox View Post
While I'm all for electronic texts, my most memorable high school and university classes were taught by teachers who assembled their own educational material and didn't rely on a pre-printed textbook.
One of the Georgia universities along with several professors are being sued by several textbook publishers for exactly this type of compilation. The problem is that the teachers take the material without permission and do not pay royalties for the used material. The publishing industry is starting to follow the music and film industries and sue, sue, sue.
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Old 04-26-2008, 06:18 PM   #8
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Suing and educator for creating their own educational materials or the ones who are copying portions of preexisting books and handing the copies out? I'd expect the latter to be in legal trouble for those actions, but the former are absolutely within the law.

If you can point to an article regarding the lawsuit, I'd love to read it. If they're truly going after teachers for the simple fact that they aren't buying texts but rather writing their own material, I'd have a serious problem with that--it wouldn't surprise me tho, I'm far too cynical for that.
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Old 04-26-2008, 07:58 PM   #9
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They are being sued for copying materials from other books and assembling them into a "book" for their own course. Sorry I wasn't clearer. You should be able to find the article at the New York Times website by searching issues of the past 2 weeks.
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Old 04-26-2008, 10:50 PM   #10
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My first university physics class had a "textbook" that was essentially the bound (as in textbook binding, not a comb binding) lecture notes of one of the department's professors. It was utterly hopeless if you didn't have that actual professor, but was great if you did. I didn't have him in lecture, but I did have him in the lab lecture part, so I got a great view of the difference. Crummy view of the physics, of course, but that's why courses can be repeated.

They had a different book the next semester, though. It was a genuine textbook, which was great (I passed the stupid class that semester), but it cost even more than the old, useless one.
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