Saturday, August 21, 2010

It Is I, Yaro, Looking At My New Text Book.

I work at a place where they are always fussing with the textbooks in our general education series of courses. I, Yaro, must occasionally tread the boards of such a class, and it has come to me this autumn as well.

But, they have changed the book once again. Now, let me prescribe to you that this is a field that does not have a great amount of yearly growth, yet there seems to be a new text every time it comes around, and because I'm such a jovial fellow I simply take the new book and teach from it.

But this new book is one I hardly recognize, so full of graphs and charts and photos it is.

I have already spent the better part of two mornings working through it, laughing roughly at some of the inanities within. But I suppose I can find enough pieces of it to fit together with my own knowledge of the field to put on the necessary show.

But is anyone else old enough to remember using texts for years at a time? Were we always catching up with the newest edition, even when they were written by buffoons and monkeys, simply to offer the pretty book salespeople something new to carry in their satchels?

I have old books that would do the job. I could show them to you.

I take my leave,


  1. Sounds to me like the people who decide which texts and how frequently they're cycled out are not the same people who have to prep that bitch anew every time.

    Why on earth isn't the instructor able to pick his/her own text?

  2. Inorganic chemists teach using a very good book by Huheey. The author died years ago before textbooks got filled with color photos, web addresses for more info, "Chemistry in Your Life" sections, etc. It is one of the rare books that does not get published as a new edition every three years. This must drive the publisher crazy.

  3. I am dying to know if Yaro actually looks like his bold and gigantic avatar.

  4. Publishers and campus bookstores ass rape students every day. The Little Brown Handbook really costs $83? Really? It ought to come with a free bottle of lube.

  5. Yeah, books are overpriced but the school is going to get their money one way or the other. Its ither the books, or student fees or a bigger tuition increase.

  6. Reason to Teach Literature #1. Perhaps, indeed, the only reason. I get to assign those little $2 Dover Thrift Editions and then insist that the students mark them up with underlines and marginalia. We call this "close reading," and it can be done with any edition, hurrah.

  7. I never could bring myself to mark up a book, Marcia. It's painful just to hear a fresh spine crack!

    I hate when you spend a whole afternoon scouting out your own textbook and then the bookstore orders a different edition! I once used a text that had 3 different "versions": a big one with a huge section devoted to author-selected readings for over $100, a smaller one with a few of those readings for about $50, and then a slimmed down one with just the instructional part and almost no readings for about $30. I chose the very economical, portable, and customizable 3rd option. The bookstore decided to order the HUGE one so they could charge triple the price. I made it VERY clear to the students that the bookstore changed the order and to get the cheap one on their own. Not that most of them read the book anyway...

  8. When I taught Information Assurance, the bookstore claimed that one of my textbooks didn't exist and refused to carry it. I made the kids order it from, a process that they suddenly found difficult. I talked to my textbook rep about it and she said that it was because it was a "professional" book rather than a "textbook". WTF?

  9. I was able to hold onto an "outdated" textbook for one year past the publication of the current edition. After that, the college bookstore informed me it could no longer secure enough copies of the older version to serve my students. Meanwhile there were dozens of copies for sale online. The time between the publication of the two editions was just two years. So here I sit sifting through a new ePack for my course, cutting out all the crap I did in the previous ePack, and updating all my lecture files, links, and other materials to reflect the same material that's now been moved to a new chapter and supplemented with shiny pictures.

  10. There are new books every three or so years because that is how the publishers structure themselves. It is just one more cog in the carousel of consumerism that passes for higher ed.

    BB, looking at Prentice Hall's inorganic chem offerings, I'd say Miessler & Tarr's every-3-year pub cycle does them just fine, and they don't update Huheey because they know they've got a large-enough base of instructors who'd shit a brick if PH started messing with it.

    Emily the (former) Editor


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