A student taking a full course load is likely to be assigned required reading penned by a familiar face – his or her professor.
Textbooks written by professors range from inexpensive non-fiction texts to pricey reference books. For example, “Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism” by David Farber, assigned for his Recent American History class, sells for as little as $9.20 at Temple’s bookstore, while a new copy of the required package “World Affairs,” by John Masker which is assigned to his class of the same name, sells for $47.95.
Despite potentially burning holes in students’ pockets, there are no doubt benefits to matching the name on one’s book to the name on one’s roster. These texts often follow lectures more closely and consolidate information from multiple textbooks – potentially saving students money and the hassle of buying multiple books for a single course.
However, some students say books authored by their professors didn’t complement the class or follow along with the subject matter, causing one to wonder about the actual motive behind the required reading.
Students have a right to know how much profit professors are seeing from these additional textbook sales, which are often assigned to lecture courses with hundreds of students in each section.
If a professor has access to a book, he or she should consider making it available online to the class or offering a wholesale price. Professors would have an opportunity to keep the scholarly benefits of assigning their own work while giving students a break.
While coordinating a class with self-authored required reading may have its benefits, professors should seriously consider if the text is the best fit for his or her class before requiring students to purchase it.