Comments on: A Major Problem you wish you had, or, Historiann-thologized, again! History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Wed, 24 Sep 2014 17:56:35 +0000 hourly 1 By: Historiann Mon, 02 Sep 2013 12:33:51 +0000 Sharon, thanks for your response. The rental option seems quite reasonable, and much more than most book buyback carts will give you if you bought the book outright and sold it back at the end of the term.

Another reason the latest edition of the book is so expensive is the fact that after the first few semesters of it being assigned, students can readily find used copies at a much lower cost. My sense is that Cengage and other publishers think they only have a year or two at most to make any money on the book, hence the high cost of the newest editions.

By: Sharon Block Mon, 02 Sep 2013 05:29:26 +0000 @Gitana re: the WHY of the cost: I wish the price were lower too — and I’m one of the authors.

The cost is so high largely because a Major Problems book is made of c. 40 reprinted essays and over 90 primary documents — most of which require permissions fees. We had a permissions budget of almost $50,000, and did our best to come in at significantly below that by using public domain sources whenever possible — but that’s still a lot of money out the door.

Essays cost up to $1000 to reprint, and even a short primary source sometimes cost upwards of $300 dollars.

I don’t think this is an easy problem to solve — publishers are feeling squeezed too. On the good side, I note that Amazon is offering to rent *Major Problems* for under $50, which seems reasonable for a textbook that covers a whole course’s readings and has 600 pages.

By: Gitana Thu, 29 Aug 2013 21:17:05 +0000 Congratulations on having your work reach a larger audience and helping to shape the understanding of what questions a state-of-the art undergraduate course in the History of Women should address.

At the same time, I have to ask, WHY is this new volume $110?

How can we, as a profession, force a discussion of how textbook prices can reinforce educational inequality.
I teach at an urban commuter campus where the majority of students are first-generation-to-college. I’ve learned that some students have actually withdrawn from courses they wanted to take because they couldn’t afford the books for all their courses that semester. some of us try to assign previous editions of good textbooks with the hope that students will be able to find used copies. But this is risky because sometimes there aren’t enough used copies in circulation for everyone in the class to get one in time.
First-generation-to-college students are shocked to find that a grant-loan package that covers tuition still leaves them with huge costs for books. Adding/increasing grants for books would not be much of a solution, it would only invite publishers to raise prices even more.
The Obama administration proposes identifying colleges that are a “good value” and having federal grant/loan programs favor colleges holding down tuition (among other criteria). Could some similar incentives be devised to reward publishers who hold down book prices? Could faculty join a “book-cott” pledge and promise to assign books that are priced reasonably? Of course it’s not just about sticker price. But there must be a way to draw up a list of criteria associated with best practices in pricing books.

I’d really like to assign this new edition, but I can’t see myself requiring students to pay this much.
And when students come from homes without a lot of books, it feels sad to reinforce the idea that books are luxury items.

By: Contingent Cassandra Sun, 25 Aug 2013 20:23:18 +0000 Cool! (and now I’m off to google Esther Wheelwright).

By: swordfish Sat, 24 Aug 2013 19:47:21 +0000 very nice! congratulations!

By: Daniel S. Goldberg Sat, 24 Aug 2013 19:31:56 +0000 That’s awesome, Historiann. The Major Problems series is very good, IMO. I’m using the one on history of medicine and public health as a required text next semester.

Mazel tov!

By: Susan Sat, 24 Aug 2013 15:40:29 +0000 Congratulations! Well deserved…not sure whether its cool, or what you wrote is hot stuff.

By: squadratomagico Sat, 24 Aug 2013 15:28:50 +0000 Many congratulations!!!

By: Historiann Sat, 24 Aug 2013 12:46:01 +0000 Thanks, everyone.

But clearly, it’s time for me to publish another book, no? I’ve decided that my Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice present to myself is going to be a completed ms. of the Esther Wheelwright book. So, I’ve got to get myself ready for those 4-6 a.m. writing jags, which is how I finished the first book 8 years ago.

I’ve been leaving my computer open every night, hoping that the Good Elves (who helped out that nice cobbler) would creep out and write my book for me, but it hasn’t worked so far. I guess (like the Little Red Hen) “I shall do it myself.”

By: Katherine Sat, 24 Aug 2013 11:34:40 +0000 very excellent for you!! congrats!!