Why Textbook Publishing Makes Me Sad

It’s that time of year again! As we get closer to the start of a new semester and a new school year, various lists of sites are going around telling you where you can find cheap used copies of textbooks, or even free downloads thereof. Many of these posts also paint textbook companies as greedy, scheming monstrosities whose sole goal is to fleece hapless college students of their paltry, desperately-needed-for-other-things funds. I’m not interested in commenting about the legality or ethics of these sites (broadly speaking, the cheap used ones are legal and the free downloads aren’t, tho there may be exceptions to that for individual cases #IAmNotALawyer), but I do want to address that portrayal of publishing companies.

My mom works as a production editor at one such company, you see, and from hearing her talk about her work, I have a bit more of an insider’s perspective on the industry. And I’m here to tell you that it’s not full of self-satisfied moguls patting themselves on the back for putting broke students thru the wringer.

It’s much worse than that.

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