An Open Letter to College Textbook Publishers

When a textbook publisher sends me a review copy of one of their textbooks, in the hope that I will use it in a future class of mine, I usually send a reply like this one. I invite all professors everywhere to do likewise. Indeed, in my view, I think professors have something like a moral obligation to help prevent big textbook publishers from exploiting the nearly-captive market of students, especially in this time of economic instability and recession.

Good afternoon,

In my intro philosophy courses, I use a textbook written by me and some of my friends (professional philosophers all), and which I give to my students for free. I also use resources on the internet available for free.

You need to understand that a lot of my students are from working-class or poverty-class families, and they do not have money for textbooks. Some do not have money even for basic necessities such as nutritious food. Those who are from more affluent families are still provided with free or nearly-free resources for use in my classroom: their right to education is exactly the same, no more and no less, than that of their under-privileged peers. This is why I produce my own course content and I publish it personally, using various self-publishing tools, and I make it available to them for the lowest price possible: free, for PDFs (which they read or print in our college library), and there is a paperback copy that they can buy for no more than the cost of printing it. I make no profit on it.

If your company is willing to give textbooks to my students for free or nearly-free, I may consider using them. But otherwise, I will not use textbooks from your company.

Brendan Myers
Professor, Dept. of Philosophy and Humanities
CEGEP Heritage College, Gatineau Quebec Canada.

Postscript: I’m planning a second edition of that texbook of mine. Stay tuned to this blog, or subscribe to my mailing list, for news about it.

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