New editions just not worth it

Sean Martin and Sean Martin

Every semester I get molested. While this may occur to some as a private matter, this attack on dignity occurs in the Multi-Purpose Room of the Union in plain view of all.

“We’re not taking this.” This is the phrase that makes me want to burn every new academic book I see on a bookstore shelf.

Why the hell are you not exactly taking my books back? Actually, this is one case where I do not care what the argument is because there is no valid excuse.

Normally, I would care what the other side says, but I do not care to listen to why it’s OK for the bookstore to swindle me out of my money.

Why is my book no longer good four months later? Maybe it is because technology has advanced in the literary world. I thought this might be the case, but bookstores everywhere are still full of bundles of ink on shiny paper. Maybe the paper is self-recycling or self-reading.

There is one reason I could accept when people claim a textbook needs updating: When monumental scientific discoveries are made. Not when some tool decides to put a pointless foreword nobody cares or reads about in his book.

Today, my 20th Century History of Europe book was rejected (it had been updated 4 times by 2005). Maybe they found out that Hitler was an alien, or Nicolai Ceausescu was the Romanian version of Mother Theresa, or maybe there was a zombie epidemic in Poland in the 1950s. What else do they know now that shakes the foundation of that subject?

I had a geology book denied once. Last time I kicked one down the street, rocks were still rocks. They were still hard and took hundreds of thousands of years to make, and that dinosaurs now live in them. Anything worth updating in a book would have been breaking news to all of us already.

I have had other books like English books get turned down before, too. I guess they must have found new forms of speech or even maybe new verb tenses.

My fraternity brothers have told me of physics book being rejected. Now, what happened in the last year that is so amazing? Did a scientist find out taping buttered bread (buttered side up) to a cat’s back creates anti-gravity?

If all else fails and a person wants to add more crap to their books but can not find a way to screw people over on text alone they have an ace in the hole: the CD.

God knows what’s on them or if they actually have any value, but God himself can’t help you if you lose it as the book is now magically worthless. They are about as useful as a one-legged soccer player.

There is only one job in the world that shares a similarity with writing textbooks: working for Electronic Arts.

No other job in the world allows you to reproduce the same work year after year with minimal changes and still pass it off as a “new” work.

New textbooks are a lot like Madden or Medal of Honor games: The new ones are just a little bit shinier with new pictures. And that’s about it.

There is no real addition of substance or material. They are made with the simple intention of lining pockets, not for educating. After you are done with them you feel empty and broke, kind of like smoking crack.

I can not think of many other jobs where people would put up with this same kind of product quality.

There is this thing that is called tenure; it’s like a guaranteed job, unless you commit crimes, that professors get.

They get this so they can do research and find new things out: not to correct typos and make fun of me in a foreword.

You may think I am crazy, but read some of these forewords in books, and the author talks about how much they thank people for buying their book and how it motivated them to re-issue it.

Translation: “Since so many people bought this book, I should make more money. I will do this by not offering any new valuable content, and forcing new books to be sold in bookstores, who will get a cut of my sales. Basically all of you reading though the newer editions are suckers!”

I thought academia was all about education and the pursuit of knowledge, not the pursuit of screwing people out of their hard-earned money by people with job security.