A textbook case of extortion

It’s the fourth week of school now. Add/Drop is over and the bookstore is no longer taking returns. I really hope you are happy with your purchases, especially considering what you may have spent on books.Publishing companies must lick their lips when students return from summer and semester breaks. They get to sell the same stuff they sold last semester over again.Hopefully if you did have a return, you didn’t unwrap the book from the shrink-wrap. You can’t return a book that is out of the shrink-wrap, apparently there is a shortage of shrink-rap machines in the world.Those of you who bought books a few weeks ago probably noticed something about the price: they never seem togo down! No matter how old a piece of information is, a hardbound and shiny cover can jack the price back up as if the facts were just discovered yesterday.How is it that an algebra textbook can sell for over $100?How old is algebra? Humanity has known the information in that textbook for hundreds of years, doesn’t the value of information decrease as it gets older and as more people know it. Should we have to pay to find out the world is round?UVM wants to be a socially liberal university with a progressively social agenda. Part of that (maybe the most important part) is recognizing that equality is important.There is nothing equal about selling old information at prices that poor people (about 5.5 billion on Earth) can’t afford. Thinking you own information can be thought of as oppression against those who can’t afford it.The University claims that lowering the cost of education is important and so do all our politicians. Since the price of tuition isn’t going down, how about the price of textbooks? Would issuing textbooks highschool style not help lower the cost of education?The insanely high price that we pay for information reflects a terrible view that information can be owned. Why doesn’t information belong to humanity collectively?It should be free.Other universities around the country aren’t afraid to try open sources (free information) but UVM, when presented with a proposal, comes down with a flat out no. “No open sources.”If you want to learn here you have to pay twice, not just tuition but for books as well. And we don’t care if information should belong to the world (wouldn’t that promote social justice and equality?) we’re charging thousands of dollars because we can.Why not a preference for non-profit publishing companies? Why not standard issue textbooks that are owned by the departments? Math, History and English departments are clearly in a position to adopt the grade school system of standard issue books. These subjects simply don’t change. If the book is damaged or not returned at the end of the semester, than charge the student.It is my opinion that information about the world we all live in should belong to everyone who lives in it.But this University will no doubt continue to resist exploring ways to bring down the cost of books.