It’s that time of year again. Get ready to head into that beautiful corner property, plop down that shiny new student ID, silently apologize to your parents and limber up to get screwed to the wall by the university bookstore.
However, the bookstore is a necessary evil. Supply meets demand, and school is much tougher without books. As you read down your class list and your bag quickly fills, you may notice something interesting. Quite a few of your professors are published authors! So why, exactly, do they demand you purchase their book?
TCU has a lot of really great professors, and many are experts in their fields. It’s expected that many will write about their chosen profession, and you don’t see a lot of academic books on the New York Times best-seller list. Their purpose is selling to students. But there is an ethical issue in profiting from making your students buy your book.
Professors are paid to teach. Being educated by experts is a privilege, and privileges are generally expensive. Considering the price of the class itself, there is no reason a professor should be able to “double dip” on what we pay for. Why not teach the class based on the wealth of source material used to write the book?
Too often, a professor will have you read his or her words in their book, then repeat them in lecture. We were led to believe this was higher education – repetition is unnecessary. By using the best parts of source material, educators can highlight their own points by showing students the process that got them to their conclusions.
I realize that may have financial ramifications for the professors and I don’t mean to deny their right to be paid for their work but it makes more sense to allow other professors within the department to use the book if doing so eliminates the moral question. If a particular book is useful for a class, then an educator who has nothing to gain financially should also view it as useful.
This is not a farmer’s market. Buying local doesn’t assure anything but wealth for an individual professor. As it’s said, the cream rises to the top. Educators can benefit financially from writing, so long as they write a good book. There are plenty of less creative professors who will gladly use a well-written textbook. We pay for a professor to teach the class, not an author.
As you browse the stacks on the second floor, see how many names you recognize. If you’re new to this game, get ready. If you can walk out with only a three-digit expenditure, consider yourself a winner because college is expensive, particularly when your professors have a free path to your wallet.
Josh Davis is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Dallas.