I think it’s worth pointing out that it was a discussion of textbooks that kicked this blog off.

The first post read:

First, you mentioned the movement to a digital medium (i.e. e-books) for textbooks, which would utterly crush the secondary market for textbooks, rendering the old trade-in scheme impotent. However, I’m sure the publishers are sure precisely how dangerous it is to distribute a text in any kind of easily-reproduced format such as a PDF or word document, given that college students are completely willing to skip “investing” $500 in textbooks to get perhaps $250 back at the end of the semester. I suspect matters will continue in the fashion of my Chemistry text, which was a vast panoply of html websites, each of which equaling a few pages in the book.

which elicited:

Without the collusion of professors, the textbook cartel will collapse. Some of them write the textbooks, and virtually all of them require them. What’s needed is a social movement that makes this unacceptable. It should be possible to mobilize the anti-corporate and anti-capitalist sentiment that pervades college campuses. Professors who refuse to support the Open Textbook Project (by writing, editing, and using the online textbooks) should be denounced as stooges for a greedy, price-gouging cartel that rips off poor students — and also destroys forests to print textbooks that end up in a landfill a couple of years later when the next edition comes out.

and concluded:

Maybe you already knew this, but the open textbook project already exists: it’s called Wikibooks, and is an offshoot of Wikipedia. I’m sure it has the same kind of detractors that Wikipedia itself has, but those are the people we want to overthrow, aren’t they?

My thoughts haven’t really changed, so all I have to add is to appropriate a quote from xkcd: “This digital music thing will probably reach its endgame sometime in the next decade or so. These are very exciting times.”

Textbooks will likely have a similar fate.

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