Posted on February 9, by Scott Alexander I. Tyler Cowen writes about cost disease.
History[ edit ] The history of textbooks dates back to civilizations of ancient history. For example, Ancient Greeks wrote texts intended for education.
The modern textbook has its roots in the standardization made possible by the printing press.
Early textbooks were used by tutors and teachers, who used the books as instructional aids e. The Greek philosopher Plato lamented the loss of knowledge because the media of transmission were changing.
The new technology of writing meant stories no longer needed to be memorized, a development Socrates feared would weaken the Greeks' mental capacities for memorizing and retelling. Ironically, we know about Socrates' concerns only because they were written down by his student Plato in his famous Dialogues.
The invention is attributed to German metalsmith Johannes Gutenbergwho cast type in molds using a melted metal alloy and constructed a wooden-screw printing press to transfer the image onto paper.
Gutenberg's first and only large-scale printing effort was the now iconic Gutenberg Bible in the s — a Latin translation from the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testamentcopies of which can be viewed on the British Library website. Gutenberg's invention made mass production of texts possible for the first time.
Although the Gutenberg Bible itself was expensive, printed books began to spread widely over European trade routes during the next 50 years, and by the 16th century, printed books had become more widely accessible and less costly.
Textbooks have become the primary teaching instrument for most children since the 19th century. Technological advances change the way people interact with textbooks.
Online and digital materials are making it increasingly easy for students to access materials other than the traditional print textbook.
Students now have access to electronic and PDF books, online tutoring systems and video lectures.
An example of an electronically published book, or e-book, is Principles of Biology from Nature Publishing. Most notably, an increasing number of authors are foregoing commercial publishers and offering their textbooks under a creative commons or other open license.
Market[ edit ] The "broken market"[ edit ] The textbook market does not operate in the same manner as most consumer markets. First, the end consumers students do not select the product, and the people faculty and professors who do select the product do not purchase it.
Therefore, price is removed from the purchasing decision, giving the producer publishers disproportionate market power to set prices high. But the price of the textbook still isn't typically taken into account when this occurs and isn't part of the perception of the product.
This fundamental difference in the market is often cited as the primary reason that prices are high. The term "broken market" first appeared in the economist James Koch's analysis of the market commissioned by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.
Consolidation in the past few decades[ when? New editions and the used book market[ edit ] Students seek relief from rising prices through the purchase of used copies of textbooks, which tend to be less expensive. Most college bookstores offer used copies of textbooks at lower prices.
Most bookstores will also buy used copies back from students at the end of a term if the book is going to be re-used at the school. Textbook companies have countered this by encouraging faculty to assign homework that must be done on the publisher's website.
If a student has a new textbook, then he or she can use the pass code in the book to register on the site. If the student has purchased a used textbook, then he or she must pay money directly to the publisher in order to access the website and complete assigned homework. Students who look beyond the campus bookstore can typically find lower prices.
With the ISBN or title, author and edition, most textbooks can be located through online used book sellers or retailers. Harvard economics chair James K. Stock has stated that new editions are often not about significant improvements to the content.
Textbook publishers maintain these new editions are driven by faculty demand. Even though the book costs less up-front, the student will not recover any of the cost through resale. Students do not always have the option to purchase these items separately, and often the one-time-use supplements destroy the resale value of the textbook.
While publishers, retailers, and wholesalers all play a role in textbook pricing, the primary factor contributing to increases in the price of textbooks has been the increased investment publishers have made in new products to enhance instruction and learningYour source for local news, sports, high school sports and weather in and around Jefferson City, Columbia, Fulton and the Lake of the Ozarks.
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