I’ve been using Klug’s Concepts of Genetics for over 20 years, despite my annoyance at the cheap-ass behavior of the publisher. I’ve mentioned before that the primary differences between editions (which come out every year or two) is that they rearrange the order of the problems at the end, to justify making students buy the latest edition. It doesn’t work, because I scan or retype the problems that I hand out, so I can tell students that they can buy any used edition from the last decade, no problem.
I don’t think I can make workarounds for the publisher, Pearson, any more, though. They’re diving deep into the greed pit.
Textbook publisher Pearson plans to profit from secondhand sales by turning its titles into non-fungible tokens (NFTs), its chief executive has said.
Educational books are often sold more than once, since students sell study resources they no longer require. Publishers have not previously been able to make any money from secondhand sales, but the rise of digital textbooks has created an opportunity for companies to benefit.
NFTs confer ownership of a unique digital item by recording it on a decentralised digital register known as a blockchain. Typically these items are images or videos, but the technology allows for just about anything to be sold and owned in this way.
After the release of Pearson’s interim results, CEO Andy Bird explained his plan to sell digital textbooks as NFTs, allowing the publisher to track the ownership of a book even when it changes hands, Bloomberg reported. “In the analogue world, a Pearson textbook was resold up to seven times, and we would only participate in the first sale,” he said, explaining that “technology like blockchain and NFTs allows us to participate in every sale of that particular item as it goes through its life”.
Nope. Nope nope nope. Textbook publishers already gouge the students — the latest edition of Concepts of Genetics costs $197.00 — and that’s not enough for them, they want to get coin for every resell. That also hurts the students, because if nothing else, they can recover some of the expense buy reselling them (at an extreme markdown, by the way), and now Pearson wants to snatch some of that resell value away from them.
I think I can find some online texts that will do the job at no cost to the students. When the bookstore puts out its annual call for textbook purchases, I wonder what they’ll think if I tell them not to order any? That’s going to hurt their business a bit.
You know who else is hurt by Pearson’s greed? William Klug, Michael Cummings, Charlotte Spencer, Michael Palladino, and Darrell Killian, the scientists who are authors of the textbook. It’s already a low-paying job to write textbooks, and they’ve done a good job, but now the grasping selfishness of Pearson will cost them royalties.