I can't help it. Every time I see loose-leaf, shrink-wrapped 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 loose-leaf 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 loose-leaf books, we need lower prices.
I was speaking with a colleague last week and she told me that a new edition of the calculus book they were using was coming out in a new edition and the new price was over $300. She told the sales representative that the price had to come down or she would switch to book from another publisher. The rep got back to her and said he could get the price down to $150, but the school would need to sign a contract. When the rep showed up with the contract, he also had a loose-leaf, shrink wrapped version of the book with him. The instructor said they would not accept the loose-leaf version of the book and that she expected the publishing company to offer the actual, hardcover textbook for the price she had been quoted. Within a week, the publisher agreed.
I think we need to just say no to these loose-leaf textbooks. The publishers created this problem by pricing their books out of the reach of students. Now they are telling us that students prefer loose-leaf books to bound books. The truth is that the loose-leaf has no resale value once the shrink-wrap has been opened. This eliminates the possibility of a used book sale, and so the publisher is actually better off: They are selling the book at a reduced price, but they have eliminated a used book sale in the process.
At XYZ Textbooks our prices are reasonable to begin with, so students can purchase a print book, if they choose. If they do, they get a full-color book, with a cover on it, not a shrink-wrapped package of 800 pieces of paper that