Tuesday, May 21, 2013

If It's Tuesday I Must Be Pissed Off At Our Textbook Committee.

Jesus Lord in a Mustang, the nutcases who were too slow-witted to avoid getting roped into the textbook committee have finally finished their recommendations for our multi-section freshman sequence of classes.

They've replaced a 2011 edition of one book with a 2010 edition of a different book. It means we have to supplement this book with a 2013 edition of another book to make up for outdated material in this "new" book. Twice the number of books. Almost twice the price. Why?

Because there are TWO essays in the 2010 edition that two committee members can not live without. I found out what they were and found them both free online. It took me, gulp, 15 seconds to copy and paste them both into an email and send it to the committee.


  1. Yikes. Committee-induced blindness at its most aggravating. My sympathies, Hiram!

    In regard to my textbook (which was not selected by committee, but rather foisted upon me by the chair), I sort of wish there was at least a small cadre of other proffies in the dept who actually know what it covers. At the very least, this might push them to hold students accountable for what they (should) already know by the time they make it out of the intro course, and then I wouldn't feel like a JV playing in the big leagues.

  2. Leaving aside the "it's available on the 'net" possibility (or the course reserves one, or the have-them-look-it-up-in-the-library-databases-and-get-some-practice one), how in the world did these committee members fail to notice the possibility of a "customized" textbook. I receive at least 3 emails a week from various firms advertising this option.

  3. I pick my own textbook. I use customized textbooks to cut back on cost. If you haggle with the publisher, you can actually save the students a lot of money.

  4. Argh! Lazy committees kill all logic! Do you get to nix the one text now that you've found the articles online?

  5. You're doing the Lord's work, H. Likely as not the students would all eat the cost of the 2010 too because no one would want to buy it back.

  6. I personally have found that customized textbooks don't work out financially, but that might just be my discipline. I order what texts I think are best, try not to order any that will not get reasonable use, and don't worry about costs. Most of my students seem to be able to afford the latest electronic gizmos, fashionable clothing labels, regular flights home and holidays abroad, and lots and lots of alcohol. I figure they can afford the texts I order and are free to choose their priorities.

    1. But, if you don't use the books in a manner that the students think you should, they'll whine that they paid all that money for nothing.

  7. Consider yourself lucky if the committee is the worst of your textbook acquisition problems.

    The place I used to teach at had an inept bookstore. The purchasing agent bungled the ordering of textbooks for some of my courses and there was really no excuse for that.

    Normally, we submitted our orders after term ended in the spring. One course I taught began right after the start of the new year, giving her about 6 months to have the books on the shelves. Days before the course was about to start, I was informed that the text I wanted was no longer in print and that the institution had to arrange for permission to make copies for the students. It took the purchasing agent 6 months to figure out that the book was no longer available?

    A few years later, I taught another course that also started after January 1. Right after exams ended in December, I decided to kill some time and went to the bookstore to see if the texts were on the shelves. They weren't. Apparently, the purchasing agent "forgot" to order them--nearly half a year after the requisition was submitted.

    That made for a few interesting lectures as it took nearly a month before the books arrived. I suggested that the students order their copies on-line because they would have likely had them sooner and, maybe, cheaper than if they bought them at the bookstore. Why should that place be rewarded for ineptitude?

    In all my years as a university student, I never started a course without the textbooks being available, even when I was an undergrad nearly 4 decades ago when people did business either by post, telephone, or teletype. I often wondered how a much larger educational institution like my alma mater could do a far better job of ordering books than the place I used to teach at.

  8. There are some courses where we have no options. The textbook that comes down, well, it's just the textbook one must use. I feel for you, Hiram.