I can't help it. Every time I see looseleaf, shrinkwrapped textbooks, I think of a student pulling out a handfull of pages from their backpack and watching it all blow away in different directions. Their textbook is blowin in the wind. The publishers will tell you that student like these looseleaf books because they only take what they want to class. It's not true; students don't need to take anything to class. In fact, they can photograph their textbook page on their cell phones and take that to class. We do not need to put up with looseleaf books, we need lower prices. A recent survey indicates that 92% of all college students prefer a print textbook to a digital one. And we know that this is especially true in college level, developmental mathematics. Those of us who teach developmental math know that some of our students do not have adequate internet access at home. The students in rural areas sometime have no internet access. The same is true for some of our lowincome students. The advantage to a print textbook is that you can study anywhere. Probably the best solution right now is to have both a print book and an eBook. If you ask the major publishers, they will tell you that students prefer buying an eBook over a print book, and that the difference is increasing every year. Of course that's true; the publishers are the ones the priced their print books out of reach of students. They created the problem and now they are telling us the eBook is the solution. You should see what we have to offer at XYZ Textbooks before you roll into any new edition. If you are using a textbook that has been on the market for three or four years, there is a good chance your publisher is going to try to move you to the new edition as quickly as possible. They may even give you only a few months to make up your mind. (See the video that accompanies this post for an interesting example of this.) If you are locked into their online homework system, you may just roll into the new edition because it is convenient. Before you do that, you should take a little time and see what we have to offer. And we have some features and applications in our eBooks that no other publishers have. Plus we have the XYZ Promise: No revisions before 5 years, no price increases for the life of the edition. Even if you decide to stay with your current publisher, by taking a look at XYZ Textbooks, you will at least know what the alternatives are. Remember when publishers were our partners in educating students? As an author—and as a teacher—I felt that way. But that seems like a long time ago at this point. Now we get high prices, faster revision cycles, unnecessary bundles, and forced rolls. Notice how all of these things solve the publishers’ own issues—not ours. These business practices are industrywide, and I think it is time to put a stop to this type of behavior. There’s only one way to communicate this in a way they will understand: Choose another book. While I was talking with an instructor using one of our books and our online homework system. Without any prompting she said she has used MyMathLab and WebAssign and XYZ Homework and she actually preferred XYZ Homework over the other two. Her main reason for preferring us was that we answer the phone when she calls with a support question. With the other systems, she has to submit a request for support and someone gets back to her in 24 hours. So, if you are tired of pressing 1 when you call your publisher. And you are tired of submitting support emails, call us  we answer our phones. The 7th edition of my trigonometry book carried a list price of approximately $320. Trigonometry is one book that turned out just they way I envisioned it. When it was published, I was proud of it. In the first few editions of the book, the price was reasonable. But now, it is embarrassing. If I was starting my career again, I don't think I would write that book, knowing that the price would be more than most students could afford. And I'm wondering about the new, enthusiastic instructors, that would like to write their own trigonometry book. Would they want to go to all that trouble knowing that the price would be unreasonably high? Are the major publishers eliminating the next generation of textbook authors because of the high prices they put on their books? At XYZ Textbooks we are doing our part to reduce student debt. We save students money when they buy one of our textbooks, and we pay the students who work for us. Both of these things can reduce the debt students accumulate during college years. If you compare the $68 price of one of our textbooks with the $180 or more that they would pay for a book from one of our competitors, then we saved students over $3,000,000 last year. It will be even more this year. And the students who create the video tutorials for us are paid a reasonable wage; they start at $12/hour and can go up to $18 per hour. In addition, many of these students are going on to careers in education, most of them as mathematics teachers, so working for us increases their ability to convey mathematics to the students they will eventually have. XYZ Textbooks is reducing student debt, and helping to prepare the next generation of mathematics teachers. My first textbook was published over 30 years ago. At that time students paid $14.95 for the book. That same book is in its ninth edition now and the list price to students is over $300. What happened? It is an interesting story, and if you started in publishing in the last 20 years, you may not know the whole story. When my first book was published, my publisher set the retail price of the book; they told the bookstores what students would pay for the book, and they gave the bookstore a 20% discount on the retail price. A book with a retail price of $20, would sell to the bookstore for a net price of $16. (This is the same as setting the retail price as a 25% mark up above the net price.) But the bookstores were not happy with this arrangement, so they asked the publishers to change to what they called net pricing. With net pricing, the bookstore We have a great program for those students taking college algebra, who are not planning to take engineering calculus. We wrote College Algebra with these students in mind. We want their last math class to be an enjoyable, worthwhile experience. For those students who are underprepared for the course, we offer College Algebra Bootcamp, a fourweek course to get them ready for college algebra. All of the assets we have at XYZ Textbooks are closely aligned, and accessible. Students can get help anywhere, anytime, as long as they have a smart phone or tablet. We want our customers to be successful. We have the best integration of print, digital, and video,of any publisher in the country. And everything we have is reasonably priced. When colleges switch to our materials, everyone is happy; students, parents, instructors, and all of us at XYZ Textbooks. 
Pat McKeaguehas been involved in higher education as an instructor, author, and presenter for more than 40 years. Archives
January 2017
