Quill and Quire

Book news

« Back to
Quillblog

Don’t steal this textbook “ download it

The Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam rails against the U.S. textbook industry, arguing that students who use illegal download sites like Textbook Torrents and thepiratebay.org are partly justified in doing so:

As a writer, how can I support this? I should be an absolutist on copyright protection for all books, magazines, and newspapers. But I’m not. The publishers have disgraced themselves, and they are paying the price. Three-hundred-dollar textbooks in the hard sciences are not unusual, and the companies are selling to a captive audience. Hundred-dollar add-ons, masquerading as digital workbooks, or problem-solving sets, are not uncommon.

However, Beam sees hope for the sector in the form of digital, downloadable textbooks, reporting that Amazon is promising a larger-format Kindle reader for the student market. Beam’s tone throughout is admirably evenhanded “ keeping the interests of publishers at heart while arguing that students are entitled to a fair price.

Steve Jobs found the right price point for music at iTunes. Between the pirates and the publishers, we’ll find our way to the right price point for textbooks, too.