Regarding Amanda Retzer’s article on textbook pricing, from my perspective, used books are the problem rather than the solution. If authors can’t earn royalties on textbook sales, what incentive will they have to write books? I have written several texts. When a new copy is sold at Cal Poly, the publisher gets revenue and I get a royalty. But then that same book will be sold and bought for another eight or 12 quarters as a used copy, cutting the author and the publisher out of the revenue loop.

If students could be persuaded to hold on to books after a course is over (as I did back in the dark ages of history), there wouldn’t be so many used books, publishers would lower book prices, and books would not have to be revised so frequently.

My own publisher, Thomson Learning, is trying to divest itself of its textbook division in order to focus on more lucrative activities in information technology. Most authors do not make a great deal of money from writing textbooks, and compensation for people in the textbook publishing industry is not all that high.

Jay Devore

Statistics professor emeritus and recently retired chair

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *