Do It for the Trees...

I just looked at the required texts for next semester - I'm breathing into a paper sack right now to control the hyperventilation. Even if I buy all used books where available, I am looking at $625... for three classes. If I buy all new books, it would be over $800!

Why are we still printing these things? This article from says that nearly half of the trees cut down in America go to paper making. Why, when there are good E-Book options out there? I have a membership to Questia, and I've used it to write all of my major papers over the last year or so. I'm using it during this break to read Marx's Capital. It's an E-Book library - you pay a small fee and then you can access their collection of books, journals, and magazines 24 hours a day. It also has some really handy features that allow you to organize your projects into virtual bookshelves, and it helps you keep track of works cited and create a bibliography when the paper is done. Accessing the journal articles that are the bulk of most research projects is much easier - no need to print them out, and if you need to find a particular quote, they are electronically searchable. When I was writing my big papers for this last semester, I know I saved about 100 pages of printing on journal articles alone.

Why can't my textbooks be available in a format like this? I see no need to own these books, which will be considered outdated in just a few years. I'd be happy to access them online, or even if I had to store them all on a hard drive somewhere. The wastefulness of the academic process is starting to piss me off.

The technology exists to fix this. You should be able to access these books on an E-Book reader or computer, and only pay for the content, not the dead trees. I've made a decision...

[puts on Black Papal mitre, clears throat]

"The Printing Industry must get with the new technology A.S.A.P., or face censure, including possible excommunication."

There, I said it. Somebody write that down... on a virtual document, not paper, of course.


becca said...

I've found that in the non-profit/business world trees are dying needlessly every day. During my 3 month Peace Corp training we got stacks of useless paper given to us by trainers, presenters and staff. We had a mini-revolt and told them that in the future we only wanted electronic copies of everything. They haven't quite gotten the message yet and at our last training I still went home with more paper than I wanted (although they are getting better). The only good thing to come out of the paper wasting was that I got a lot of material to start my fire with . . .

Cerus said...

Hear hear! This is getting ridiculous. Given that most of these books will never be opened again once the semester has come to an end, something different needs to happen, quickly.

In addition, the cost is insane, it doesn't cost that much to make these books, but they have a market that is dependent on their product and they bend us over every time.

This is why I buy used when I can.

Mayren said...

I agree. We are to the point on MANY conservation upgrades where the old excuse of "technology hasn't caught up to us" just doesn't fly anymore.

We've long surpassed the tech know-how for so much that it just kills me to see so many wasteful and stupid people.

I hate the movie Idiocracy but the idea behind it is close to something I could forsee happening in real life. *cringe* Scary!

- note about book costs...
It's assinine. pure and simple greed. I had to buy a new math book because the class demanded it recently - ended up having to drop.
I enrolled to the same class, same professor the next semester and again was forces to buy a new book.

Math doesn't change THAT much in ONE semester. SPECIALLY not undergrad math.

Ok sorry this is not the place for posting teehee. Just know we feel your pain sweets.

His Sinfulness said...

Thanks for the support, folks. I am irritated about this - enough so that I am looking for an anti-paper group to join (because I don't have time to start one myself).

Raksha said...

*hugs* Yeah, I know exactly how you feel. I had this same sticker shock every time when I was in grad school. And since we were on the quarter system, I had it every 10 weeks! Once, I had a course packet that was printed up at the university's print shop that cost $150 (plus tax) alone! And of course, I had about 15 other things I had to buy on top of that.

And since my program had a big comprehensive essay exam at the end of the two years instead of a thesis, I couldn't sell any of the books after I'd finished the classes!

But at the end of the two years when I did go to sell everything back, do you know how much I got? $170. For books that I'd paid thousands for. And on the bus ride home, I saw the local pagan store was having a sale and I ended up stopping and spending more than half of that $170! ARGH!

There is one benefit of paper books over ebooks, though. The person who buys my used book gets the benefits of my excessive highlighting and my snarky, bitter marginalia. Fun times!

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