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A textbook or coursebook (UK English) is a manual of instruction in any branch of study. Textbooks are produced according to the demands of educational institutions. Although most textbooks are only published in printed format, many are now available as online electronic books and increasingly in scanned format in P2P networks.
The ancient Greeks wrote texts intended for education. The modern textbook has its roots in the standardization made possible by the printing press. Johannes Gutenberg himself may have printed editions of Ars Minor, a schoolbook on Latin grammar by Aelius Donatus. Early textbooks were used by tutors and teachers, who used the books as instructional aids (e.g.,alphabet books), as well as individuals who taught themselves.
The Greek philosopher Socrates (469-399 B.C.) lamented the loss of knowledge because the media of transmission were changing. Before the invention of the Greek alphabet 2,500 years ago, knowledge and stories were recited aloud, much like Homer's epic poem The Odyssey.
The new technology of writing meant stories no longer needed to be memorized, a development Socrates feared would weaken the Greeks' mental capacities for memorizing and retelling. (Paradoxically, we know about Socrates' concerns only because they were written down by his student Plato in his famous Dialogues.)
The next revolution for books came with the 15th-century invention of printing with changeable type. The invention is attributed to German metalsmith Johannes Gutenberg, who cast type in molds using a melted metal alloy and constructed a wooden-screw printing press to transfer the image onto paper.
Gutenberg's first and only large-scale printing effort was the now iconic Gutenberg Bible in the 1450s â€” a Latin translation from the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, copies of which can be viewed on the British Library Web site [http://www.bl.uk/ www.bl.uk]. Gutenberg's invention made mass production of texts possible for the first time. Although the Gutenberg Bible itself was stratospherically expensive, printed books began to spread widely over European trade routes during the next 50 years, and by the 16th century printed books had become more widely accessible and less costly.
Compulsory education and the subsequent growth of schooling in Europe led to the printing of many standardized texts for children. Textbooks have become the primary teaching instrument for most children since the 19th century. Two textbooks of historical significance in United States schooling were the 18th century New England Primer and the 19th century McGuffey Readers.
Technological advances change the way people interact with textbooks. Online and digital materials are making it increasingly easy for students to access materials other than the traditional print textbook. Students now have access to electronic and PDF books, online tutoring systems and video lectures.
Most notably, an increasing number of authors are foregoing commercial publishers and offering their textbooks under a creative commons or other open license. The New York Times recently endorsed the use of free, open, digital textbooks in the editorial [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/25/opinion/25fri4.html "That textbook costs how much?"]
The "broken market"
The textbook market does not operate in exactly the same manner as most consumer markets. First, the end consumers (students) do not select the product, and the product is not purchased by faculty or professors. Therefore, price is removed from the purchasing decision, giving the producer (publishers) disproportionate market power to set prices high. Similarities are found in the pharmaceutical industry, which sells its wares to doctors, rather than the ultimate end-user (i.e. patient).
This fundamental difference in the market is often cited as the primary reason that prices are out of control. The term "Broken Market" first appeared in Economist James Koch's analysis of the market commissioned by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.
This situation is exacerbated by the lack of competition in the textbook market. Consolidation in the past few decades has reduced the number of major textbook companies from around 30 to just a handful. Consequently, there is less competition than there used to be, and the high cost of starting up keeps new companies from entering.
New editions & the used book market
Students seek relief from rising prices through the purchase of used copies of textbooks, which tend to be less expensive. Most college bookstores offer used copies of textbooks at lower prices. Most bookstores will also buy used copies back from students at the end of a term if the book is going to be re-used at the school. Books that are not being re-used at the school are often purchased by an off-campus wholesaler for 0-30% of the new cost, for distribution to other bookstores where the books will be sold. Textbook companies have countered this by encouraging faculty to assign homework that must be done on the publisher's website. If a student has a new textbook then he or she can use the pass code in the book to register on the site. If the student has purchased a used textbook then he or she must pay money directly to the publisher in order to access the website and complete assigned homework.
Students who look beyond the campus bookstore can typically find lower prices. With the ISBN or title, author and edition, most textbooks can be located through online used book sellers or retailers.
Most leading textbook companies publish a new edition every 3 or 4 years, more frequently in math & science. Harvard economics chair James K. Stock has stated that new editions are often not about significant improvements to the content. "New editions are to a considerable extent simply another tool used by publishers and textbook authors to maintain their revenue stream, that is, to keep up prices," A study conducted by The Student PIRGs found that a new edition costs 12% more than a new copy of previous edition, and 58% more than a used copy of the previous edition. Textbook publishers maintain these new editions are driven by faculty demand. The Student PIRGs' study found that 76% of faculty said new editions were justified â€œhalf of the time or lessâ€� and 40% said they were justified â€œrarelyâ€� or â€œnever.â€� The PIRG study has been criticized by publishers, who argue that the report contains factual inaccuracies regarding the annual average cost of textbooks per student.
The Student PIRGs also point out tha
Holt McDougal is an American publishing company, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, that specializes in textbooks for use in secondary schools. Holt, Rinehart and Winston was a division of Harcourt Education. When owner Reed Elsevier sold Harcourt to Houghton Mifflin in 2007, Holt, Rinehart and Winston was combined with McDougal Littell to form Holt McDougal.
Holt McDougal publishes textbooks on mathematics, language arts, social studies, science, health, and world language (French, Spanish, and German). They have also published children's books for the Weekly Reader Book Club, including Sweet Pickles, Fraggle Rock, and Snoopy.
Fundamentals of Physics is a calculus-based physics textbook by David Halliday, Robert Resnick, and Jearl Walker. The textbook is currently in its ninth edition and is published in a five-volume set. The current version is a revised version of the original textbook Physics by Halliday and Resnick, first published in 1960. It is widely used in colleges as part of the undergraduate physics courses, and has been well-known to science and engineering students for decades as "the gold standard" of freshman-level physics texts. In 2002, the American Physical Society named the work the most outstanding introductory physics text of the 20th century.
The textbook covers most of the basic topics in physics:
The extended edition also contains introductions to topics such as Quantum Mechanics, Atomic Theory, Solid-State Physics, Nuclear Physics and Cosmology. A solutions manual and a study guide are also available.
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