Questions tagged [books]

Related to academic books, including scholarly books, textbooks, and reference books. Considerations related to publishing academic books, choosing textbooks, etc., come under this tag.

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186
votes
9answers
22k views

Why would an academic write a textbook for free?

Recently, I became aware of a Java programming textbook Introduction to Programming Using Java, Seventh Edition which is to my surprise, free as in: The most recent version of this book is always ...
130
votes
15answers
21k views

Is it ethical to profit by having my students buy my textbook?

This question was suggested to me by How can I sell my text book to my students in e-book format? which asked about the practicalities, but attracted many comments about the ethics. So this question ...
119
votes
17answers
34k views

Should I send professors money for illegally downloading their books? [closed]

I illegally download almost all the books I need for my studies. While I'm more than happy to give a middle finger to the publisher mafia, it does of course mean that the author of the book is not ...
87
votes
22answers
23k views

What is the point of a lecture when you have a textbook?

I never really understood the point of having a course with lectures when the course has a textbook. Sometimes the subject is so high-level or specialized or so modern that the contents are changing ...
70
votes
7answers
3k views

How to publish an academic book but make the PDF freely available online?

Background I like the idea of writing an academic book. It currently looks better on a CV when applying for jobs, grants, promotions, etc. than a blog post, or a website. Libraries and people ...
56
votes
13answers
7k views

Should I inform students that there are cheaper alternatives to the on-campus book store?

The bookstore at my American university is an outpost of Barnes and Noble, charges much higher prices than can be found on Amazon, and in my opinion offers very poor service. Among other things that ...
53
votes
9answers
15k views

A professor has offered to send me a hard copy of his new book. Would it be rude to ask for a PDF file instead?

While working my way through one textbook, I spotted several errors, TeXed them up and emailed to the author of the textbook. He thanked me and asked for my physical address so he could send me a copy ...
47
votes
5answers
15k views

Is it acceptable to use working hours to read general interest books?

Every year are published around a dozen of books directly related to my research. By directly I mean on the same topics of my research, normally by authors I am familiar with, and potential reference ...
43
votes
10answers
9k views

As a PhD student, how do I benefit from reviewing a book my adviser is writing?

My adviser is writing a book for a course in computer science he will be teaching next fall and I will be the teaching assistant for that course. He wants me to review the book and go through the ...
43
votes
5answers
13k views

Is it legal (USA) and ethical to use international edition textbooks? When I pay for a textbook, where does the money go?

Background: I am a student. I didn't have anything in life for four years, and I worked myself silly at times for it. So now I ask - when I pay hundreds of dollars over the production cost (new ...
42
votes
8answers
3k views

Is there any way to pressure textbook publishers to reduce price?

I am an instructor in a medium-sized state school in the USA. The price for the textbook to the introductory math course that I teach just increased. Again. A new, paperback copy costs 170 USD. I want ...
41
votes
12answers
5k views

What is the benefit of writing lecture notes for an introductory course vs using a textbook?

Background: I am a junior university staff member, and I will teach an introductory course in linear algebra for the first time in a few months. I see that many teachers devote time to writing ...
41
votes
3answers
11k views

Why do textbooks often include the solutions to odd or even numbered problems but not both?

I've just gotten a textbook (physics) for next year and I noticed that, like many other textbooks I've had, it contains solutions to only odd-numbered questions. From my experience, this is typical, ...
40
votes
11answers
13k views

What can I do with like-new, recent-edition textbooks that I'm not allowed to sell?

My employer is sponsoring most of the tuition and fees for my master's degree (in aerospace engineering), including required textbooks. Thus, it is unethical and against policy for me to sell those ...
39
votes
4answers
4k views

I came across plagiarism. Whom should I inform if at all?

I have been reading a sample PDF of a book by a professor at a research university published in 2007 on the publisher’s website. For some reason the book’s title was not included in the PDF’s footer (...
39
votes
3answers
86k views

Difference between International edition of a book and a non international one

Most of the textbooks I used during my undergraduate studies (outside north America) are International editions, so what is the difference between a national and an international edition of a book? ...
38
votes
6answers
6k views

How do textbook authors and professors cook up homework/assignment questions?

I was looking around on the internet and I found some notes with homework appended to them (for those interested, it is math). What struck me is that these questions are not only lengthy, notationally ...
38
votes
6answers
10k views

Is it OK to publish a book as an undergraduate?

I am a CS student at 4th year in my university. I have done a lot of real-world projects, worked as a freelancer for many years, and have released a lot of software in use by thousands of people. I ...
38
votes
7answers
2k views

What incentives do academics have to write text books?

As noted in this question, academics should write research articles. In many fields, these are way more important than books. It's original research that counts for getting a PhD position, a post-doc, ...
38
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there a way to save my students money on a textbook?

I'm considering requiring a textbook that sells for $140 on Amazon. Used copies cost $95 and up. I expect about 60 students to take the course. Our students are not wealthy, and some will skip ...
35
votes
3answers
10k views

Should I let my professor know that I cited a text written by him…that I pirated from online

I wrote an essay for a professor of mine, in which I cited a book he had written. As it so happens, the citation is based on my having obtained a (most likely) pirated PDF copy of the book. The text ...
35
votes
9answers
7k views

Why don't more academics write textbooks?

For example for an undergrad CS/ECE course, say Intro to Computer Networks, there are about 5 textbooks published by the top 15 publishers in the last 20 years. Why aren't there way more textbooks, ...
34
votes
6answers
5k views

If an author does not intend to make much revenue from a book, why not make it open-access?

Many authors do not intend to make much revenue from books (textbooks or research books) they contribute to, yet they don't make it open access. Why?
33
votes
4answers
7k views

Is it appropriate for a PhD candidate to publish a book?

I have had an idea for a year or two to write a book relating to the research I do. My specific field (in the mathematical sciences) is somewhat niche and no book currently exists that aggregates the ...
32
votes
2answers
622 views

How to cite marginalia in a second-hand book?

So this is an interesting thing I've come across. I recently purchased a modern book for my research and whoever had the book before me had some pretty great things written in the margins. As a ...
31
votes
7answers
8k views

Why are textbook authors often not the most famous/cited researchers?

I am not sure if this is generalizable to all subjects. What I have noticed in some of the sciences, for example biology, ecology, and environmental sciences, is that the authors of the most used ...
31
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is the city of publication important in most bibliography format?

Most bibliography formats require the city of publication for books. Why? In this digital era, ISBN would be way more important. But even before the digitalization of everything, why was the city of ...
29
votes
9answers
7k views

What are the motivations for publishing new editions of an existing textbook, beyond new discoveries in a field?

In many of my undergraduate classes, professors required up to date editions of textbooks. This was across a number of subjects from Computer Science to Accounting and across introductory and more ...
29
votes
3answers
4k views

Pros and cons of writing a book review?

I am a postdoc in a biology department. I am friends with a professor in the philosophy department who is the editor of a Nature journal which publishes book reviews. A 150-page popular science book ...
25
votes
9answers
9k views

Prof disagrees with assigned textbook regarding an exam question

This actually happened to my wife, but for the sake of simplicity I'll talk about it as if it happened to me. I wrote a final exam for a university course last week, and a couple days ago I got my ...
24
votes
3answers
13k views

Is it legal in the US for a student to download a copy of a textbook, to study?

(this is coming out of a comment thread regarding this question.) The USA has a Fair Use legal provision restricting its copyright law: 17 U.S.C. § 107 Notwithstanding the provisions of ...
24
votes
6answers
4k views

How do academics find time to write books?

Books covering primarily academic topics, from philosophy and neuroscience to physics and geopolitics, are usually written (not surprisingly) by experts in the field, which are normally academics ...
24
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the purpose of international editions of books sometimes omitting some problems, footnotes, or other content?

I've noticed that - at least in the US - a book is published and sold at a non-trivial price to US residents. However, the author/publisher may also make an international version. This version is ...
24
votes
13answers
7k views

How can I encourage students to ask questions in class

In my field (as in many others), students are assigned articles or textbook chapters to be read as preparation for classes (i.e. the whole class has to read the same set of texts). I encourage my ...
24
votes
1answer
16k views

I have found an error in a textbook. What can I do about it?

In the book Electronic Devices and Circuit Theory (10th edition) by Boylestad and Louis Nashelsky, I have found a technical mistake. What can I do about this? To whom should I send an email, the ...
24
votes
6answers
8k views

As a self-learner, what to do with books providing exercises but not solutions?

Lately I've been reading lots of statistics books. Many of them have exercises after each chapter that I'm eager to solve, but I'm a beginner and can't solve most of them, and those that I think I can ...
23
votes
4answers
4k views

Should I cite the latest edition of a book?

Before publication, if a new edition of a source is released, should I try and find the new edition or keep a citation based on the old?
23
votes
10answers
8k views

How to read a textbook for distance learning coursework - do I need to work on fact recall, or is understanding enough?

There's perhaps a better title for this question, but I can't immediate think of one - suggestions for amendment welcome. I'd like to clarify the purpose of reading textbooks. It sounds obvious at ...
23
votes
4answers
20k views

How does a book chapter in an edited volume compare to a peer reviewed paper?

I have been invited to write a book chapter in an edited volume, relating to my field of work. I have a paper ready that I have not published and was planning to submit it soon. So, I am wondering is ...
22
votes
3answers
3k views

Is that a good idea to send an errata list to a professor whose class I'm currently enrolled in?

There is a professor at our school whose textbook I was using in class A (not taught by the professor). I've studied the textbook from cover to cover and have spotted about twenty typos (many of which ...
22
votes
4answers
1k views

Traveling with textbooks

So I am finishing my MSc in Europe and it looks like I will be headed to the US for a PhD. Along the way I have collected a small set of textbooks that I find particularly useful. From my experience, ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it rude to request a book chapter from the academic who wrote it if you don't want to buy the entire textbook?

The title says it all. I want to read a book chapter from a prominent Oxbridge researcher, but I don't want to shell out the cash for the entire textbook in which it's published. Is it rude to contact ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

How to ensure proper peer-review for a self-published book?

In this day and age, with more and more people going the self-publishing route, I'd be interested in experiences from/opinions about how to go about having your self-published book properly peer-...
20
votes
10answers
8k views

Can a professor refuse to introduce any textbook for a course?

In a technical course, our professor refused to introduce any textbook. He officially stated (included in the course syllabus) that all the course content will be discussed in the class, and cover all ...
20
votes
4answers
4k views

Is there any value in self-publishing a book as an academic?

Recently, I contacted a publisher about the draft of a book that I wrote about a year ago. I found their advertisement over the net. This is a scientific book that I have worked on for about two or ...
20
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it illegal to cite books that were illegally downloaded or accessed from a library?

How illegal is it to cite books that were illegally downloaded? If they aren't available in the university library, if you can't really afford the books (maybe you will make one reference in one ...
20
votes
6answers
3k views

Good book on English for academic writing and speaking for non-native speakers

I'm not native speaker so I always have some problems with academic writing and speaking. Any good book for English in the academic context generally or for Computer Science in particular (writing or ...
19
votes
6answers
44k views

How can I protect my loose leaf textbooks?

One book I ordered this semester is a loose leaf book (3-hole punched) that I'm currently keeping in a binder. Problem is, the pages are quite thin, and tear very easily near the hole punches. What ...
19
votes
5answers
7k views

Is solving all of the exercises in a textbook a good idea? [closed]

Is solving all of the exercises in a textbook a good idea? I'm particularly concerned with textbooks on mathematics. I have this obsession that I should solve all of the problems that a textbook has. ...
19
votes
4answers
3k views

A theorem exists in a book but not in a journal - is this considered as a publication?

When I was undergraduate I proved something which was non trivial (but I have to be honest, it was not something very important) in mathematics and i presented it to a professor at the university. He ...