Tuesday, January 10, 2006

No Haggling This Time

Unlike the way it is with Chinese street markets, you can't haggle with textbook sellers. The best you can do is to get a copy of the book on Amazon but then again, you don't know which book to get until class starts and then it's too late because you'll need those books for homework and such and can't wait for Amazon delivery. This is how I get saddled with a $160 textbook for German. Scheisse. That's twice as expensive than a Canon 50mm 1.8!

It's not that I doubt these textbooks took a lot of money to produce. They're hard cover, they're printed on very nice paper, and the textbook comes with a workbook and a lab manual. But still, I have to wonder about the business side of it. It's well known that new editions of commonly used textbooks are soemtimes issued just to make money. Sometimes, the new editions aren't even all that different form the old editions but the page numbers are juggled a little bit so that users of the new editions aren't compatible with users of the old. The upshot? Everyone has to buy new editions.

Sometimes I wonder if it would be better to take all the money that students pony up for textbooks and use it to hire really great teachers. $150 per student, 20 students per class (3k), 3 classes per quarter (9k), 3 quarters per year (27k) would make a nice bonus for some deserving language teachers. Or recruit a good TA or two. What about the lack of a textbook then? Well what about it? Why is American education so enthralled with textbooks anyway? I learn more from my wonderful Japanese teacher in class than I ever do from my admittedly wonderful Japanese textbook. Without the book, I would just get a Japanese grammar dictionary instead, which I still have to get anyway.

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