Who can resist a Harry Potter allusion

Rebecca Schuman takes on the ethics of certain textbook selection practices at colleges and universities.  From Slate.

Professors who make students buy the books they wrote are egomaniacal Gilderoy Lockharts.
For any professor who is in the position to assign his own books (plural) is almost certainly tenured. The standard salary breakdown for a tenured or tenure-track professor is: 40 percent for teaching (instructional time, course prep, course development, office hours, grading, etc.); 20 percent for “service to the university” (committee work); and, finally, a full 40 percent for research, i.e., writing the aforementioned arcane books. So this means that your professor has already been paid to write that book she’s making you buy. And this is indeed why, to this day, the “advance” for almost all academic books is zero dollars. (By that rationale, I suppose I’d like to see some adjuncts—many of whom have written books in the futile hopes of making it onto the tenure track—assign their own books, since it’s the only time they’ll ever be paid for writing them.) 
But financial opportunism aside, there is another reason assigning one’s own book for a humanities or social science course is more than just tacky. Most such books are simply so hyperspecialized, and written in oft-impenetrable jargon, that forcing a captive audience of undergrads to read them (and, presumably, pretend to like them) is both cruel and a waste of time. Those poor kids will already get an entire semester of this professor’s opinions. They don’t need to pay to read them, too.


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