Hot answers tagged

507

As the author of this particular free textbook, I can say that the previous answers have covered things pretty well. "Introduction to programming using Java" started in 1996 as a set of class notes written in HTML with embedded Java applets -- which all seemed pretty exciting in the heady early days of the Internet. I had published an earlier textbook in ...


186

With that in mind, would it be appropriate to simply send those odd 10 dollars to the author of the book that I am illegally downloading? First, I would be concerned about your legal exposure. You would be effectively admitting piracy. Second, you cannot unilaterally change the terms of sale. When the professor published the book, they agreed to sell it ...


169

I don't know why Eck made his book freely available, but I can tell you why I make my course materials freely available, and will continue to do so even if I ever take the final step of turning them into a book. Because I want as many people as possible to use what I've written. As others have pointed out, the expected profit from publishing a textbook is ...


126

I find the moralistic tone of some of the other answers a bit distasteful, and also unhelpful. It’s pretty clear to me that you didn’t come here to ask for a general lecture about the pros and cons of piracy of textbooks and other digital content, and that is the sort of knowledge that already exists in a zillion different places and isn’t worth repeating. ...


93

I have never heard of a textbook being "secret" in the sense that it was being kept intentionally hidden to give students of one organization an advantage. I have often, however, encountered draft textbooks that a professor had not yet completed or published, for which students were partly acting as "beta testers." These are often not released for general ...


92

It's socially acceptable to do (almost) whatever you want during academic "free time". Ultimately what matters are the results you produce, and as long as you're able to do that most people will not care if you're reading general interest books, drinking coffee, or answering questions on StackExchange. Of course, if you have assigned duties (e.g. teaching ...


91

You'll gain his trust, if you do a good job. You will also gain a deeper understanding of the material as you'll read it thoroughly not just to learn it, but also having to think about how the material is presented. Don't expect anything else.


86

It is a question of framing. Frame it as something that is good for him, not just for you. I'd write something along the lines of: Thank you very much for your kind offer. I'm indeed very interested in the subject of book X. It probably is easier and cheaper for you if you just send me a PDF, and as I am someone who reads mostly on a screen anyway, I ...


82

This allowance is a custom to allow instructors to give homework where the solutions to some questions were not provided directly to the student (at least not in the book - this was from a time where searching for solutions to homework was not so easy outside of personal social connections). If an instructor just wants students to work on problems where the ...


81

I am the author of a textbook. The book retails for $50. I get 50cents for every copy sold. I do not own the copyright on the book and it would be illegal for me to sent you a copy, even if I had a copy to send (I mean, I have the original word documents, but the final PDF looks nothing like that). The book has been scanned, and when it was not so old I ...


77

It is incredibly uncommon to assume that someone bought a book just because it is cited. While in theory, the professor could ask this question, why would (s)he care? If you are geniuinely concerned about the question, perform an inter-library loan with your university library on the two books now, and should that question ideed pop up, reply that you ...


75

There is no "right to have a textbook". Students do have a right to pick a different professor, or a different major, if they want. You should assume that the lack of a textbook for the course means that the instructor has evaluated existing texts as not appropriate.


75

Ask your employer. You should be able to work out a solution both parties are happy with pretty easily. The obvious one is to sell the books and then give your employer the profits. If they don't care, you can also pocket the profits yourself, perhaps recycle the books or donate them to your university's library.


70

Publishers want new editions so that they can make money selling copies of the new edition and reduce the market for used copies. The new edition might be significantly updated, but in many cases the updates are small. For textbooks in lower division general education courses, new editions come out as often as every three years. It's quite common for ...


65

I started writing a post about all the things I like to do that the book doesn't: offer an intuitive overview, a fresh perspective on the basics, etc. Then I realized that of course, there's no reason that the book couldn't do these things. Most of them don't, but there's no fundamental reason not to. Everything I do in a lecture to help students see the ...


63

Feel free to ask, but if this author is in the same position I was in when my recent book was published, the answer would have to be "no" Under my contract I got a set number of printed copies of the book, but not even one DRM'd ebook copy. I could send you an electronic copy of my manuscript, but it doesn't exactly match the published version (the copy ...


62

This comes down to potentially conflicting principles. Academic freedom requires that professors should be able to choose the most appropriate references for their courses, and of course the professor's own book will often be a perfect fit for the course that inspired it. On the other hand, it's important to avoid even the appearance of assigning one's own ...


62

Go for it, and see whether you can get one of your professors to do a technical review. That technical review, acknowledged in the preface, will lend weight to your book. If you have professors who speak your language, think about co-authors. Do not, however, expect to make money. Only blockbuster textbooks make significant money for their authors. Also,...


56

You missed scenario f, which I suspect is the most common: The professor has been teaching this class and refining the textbook/notes for years, and developed homework questions out of problems that have come up over the course of that extended period of time of engaging with this material.


56

As in the other comments and answer: it's a lot of trouble, doesn't generate money, and doesn't generate status, either. In fact, it often generates anti-status, for various reasons: because of the other features, many academics (I'm in mathematics) would never consider writing any sort of book at all... and many of these people seem to subliminally want to ...


56

As an academic librarian, I am frequently asked similar questions. First, please don't just drop them off at the library. Unwanted donations are a significant problem at libraries—it's very difficult to recycle books, so libraries end up having to pay to get rid of books we don't need, on top of the time and effort it takes to deal with a big pile of books ...


56

One possible reason is that I feel the style of textbooks have changed in the last years, so that newer books are sometimes easier to understand (use more modern-day language and symbols, is friendlier to the reader etc.) (This does not necessarily imply that they don't cover as much details as the older ones or are more superficial) But the professor, being ...


55

Do professors have an obligation to recognize the assigned textbook as an authority in the context of the course? No, there is no such obligation. It's a bad educational practice to choose a textbook that's seriously unreliable, but even good textbooks slowly go out of date, and they sometimes have a lack of detail or even outright errors as well. It's ...


54

It may also be worth pointing out that your professor is unlikely to really care that you ‘pirated’ the book. While he or she will receive occasional royalty cheques, very few textbooks make more than beer money for the author. They might object to the non-standard download on principle (and that's reasonable enough), but I'd be surprised if they made a ...


54

First: Slow down. In the academic world, books are simply collections of known things presented in a unified fashion. In fact, in some disciplines, it's almost unheard of for someone to release something novel in book form. Additionally, while book chapters are reviewed by editors and (occasionally) peers, it's not the same peer-review setting as we have in ...


53

There are a number of reasons why not to, and they stem from the reasons one might want to publish a book, even if you aren't making much if any money: The prestige of the publisher matters. For many tenure committees, professional organizations, etc. "A Book from BigDeal University Press" > "Some Markdown Files on Github" or what have you in terms of ...


53

Is it ethical to give a grade (or extra credit) based on student feedback? I think the key question is, will reading draft material from your textbook help students towards their understanding of the subject of this class? If yes, then it honestly sounds like a great exercise to me. Not only does it force the students to actually read some material related ...


52

Cite the edition of the book you used, as new editions may contain the same text, paragraph or example but on a different page.


51

Authors usually don't and cannot sell directly copies of their books, and the price is decided by the publisher. Of course, an author has their draft copy in electronic format, but they might not even have the final electronic version as published. Authors typically receive a few courtesy copies of their books, but they have no access to other copies for ...


49

You have already mentioned most of the things that are going on. Someone who is good at doing research is not necessarily someone who is good at writing textbooks. These are different skills. There are only 24 hours in a day, and an hour spent on writing textbook is an hour not spent on research. A person becomes a top-researcher by being strategic in the ...


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