Required Reading

29 06 2010

Remember when “text” was not a verb?

This week my son and I are all worked up over college textbooks.  But we’re coming at our issues from different sides.

In the process of sorting through some stuff in the basement, I ran across a box of old college textbooks.  I found volumes on math, chemistry, sociology, accounting, and education.  You don’t get out of William and Mary without being liberally educated.

But there’s one book I can’t remember at all.  It’s by Arthur Schlesinger and it’s on “The Newspaper War on Britain: 1764-1776.”  I can tell from the price tag that it’s from the college bookstore and that it’s VERY old–$4.98 for 318 pages!  My immediate assumption was that it must have been my husband’s because if it had been mine I would have highlighted it (not those awful pastel markers; I always underlined in pencil, neatly, using a flexible plastic six-inch ruler.)  Plus, he was a history major who became a newspaper reporter when he graduated.

But he looked at the book and noted that it was published the year he graduated.  So I don’t know; either way, it’s going in the DONATE pile.  I’m sure somebody wants to learn about the newspaper war on Britain, but they don’t live in this house.

My son, on the other hand, is looking to acquire a college text.  He decided to take Spanish I this summer at the community college.  The required textbook goes for $150 new.  For a Spanish textbook?!?  I can barely fathom that for an art history book, with all those photographs, or an organic chemistry book; that weighs a ton.  But for first year Spanish?  Perhaps equally astounding, he found it online for $15.  How can a $150 book be selling for $15?  Is it missing, say for instance, all the pages?

Anyway, after four years of exploring all the angles, my son is the expert on minimizing textbook costs, though sometimes my husband and I do have to insist that when taking a course it is expected that he actually have access to the reading material.  So I trust he’ll figure this out as well.

Buenos Dias!  (Did I say that right?)

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3 responses

30 06 2010
Carol

Eventually, I believe, textbooks will all be e- books, readily (and more cheaply) downloaded from the internet. Much easier to store too. But in the meantime – doesn’t $150 to $15 sound like one heck of a markup? Maybe even could be called really pushing it? Like, gouging? It’s ridiculous! Affording an education is becoming more and more difficult for the average student.

30 06 2010
Mary Lee Maag

Ah…that flexible plastic 6-inch ruler. Makes me think of your dad and that makes me smile! You two liked so many of the same things.

…one of the ladies in my book club has a kindle….but there’s something about holding a book in your hand and turning the pages……

13 11 2010
Round Mirror ·

well of course community colleges are part of a good educational system too *,~

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