Students the world over have come to recognize that they have long been ripped off by the textbook publishing establishment to which the higher education system panders. Thus, the cost of college textbooks has increased geometrically compared to regular inflation and colleges and universities are partly to blame. Higher education institutions regularly require the “most recent” editions of textbooks that the publishing houses have simply reworked by changing the page count, adding some useless fluff, and perhaps re-organizing the chapters. Thus, every year or every couple of years students must continually purchase their textbooks new and some texts can cost over $200 or $300 each! It’s a rip-off—you known it, I know it, the colleges and universities know it and the publishing houses certainly know it. Add on to this the insult of constantly increasing college tuition and we all begin to understand that the higher education system in most developed markets is not about higher education but is about fleecing as many students as possible of their money. One new development that can ease the cost-burden of pursuing higher education is the current electronic textbook initiative that is expanding with the introduction of the iPad and other electronic readers. Electronic textbooks are quite promising not only because they are less expensive that regularly printed college textbooks but because they allow the integration and instant viewing of a multitude of different media such as hyperlinks to websites and other online data sources, video and sound files, and collaborative networks for students. Even more promising is that there are organizations and firms that are beginning to develop open source textbooks and electronic textbooks that are distributed online for free or for reasonable associated printing costs.  Open source textbooks may not be fully developed at the moment but it is only a matter of time before they begin to challenge the publishing establishment and colleges and universities should begin to examine these alternatives for their students. Perhaps one of the most promising of all of these developing alternatives to the traditional textbook is business textbooks and other specialties being offered and developed by flatworld KNOWLEDGE. So, investigate these traditional textbook alternatives and complain to your colleges and universities about the high costs of textbooks and of higher education in general.

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