Posted by: thedirtybaker | October 8, 2011

Wanna buy a bridge in Brooklyn?

Every semester, I get an email that I assume is sent university-wide to all instructors from an outside

The Brooklyn Bridge (copied from an internet site. (from

company.  It tells us that if we really care about our students, we won’t ask them to spend so much money on books.  We should put together course packs (through this company) instead, and that they’d love to speak with me or meet with me about what I want in a course pack.  Then, students can pay for the course pack through the company sending the email.  They claim that it is more convenient for me and my students, and cheaper for the students.  I doubt both parts of that.  Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that professors and instructors actually fall for these emails when we can provide the readings for a course pack for students for free through the university library.

I also do assign books; I like books, value them, and don’t pick expensive ones.  We make very little money in my field.  I’m not going to begrudge colleagues the sales from their books.  I know I retain more when I read on paper, rather than online, and think that’s common, so I want my students to have actual paper in front of them.  (The problems of cost are more in the fields with big, glossy, hardcover books, with CDs included, that get marginally updated every couple of years, preventing students from getting used ones.)  Some of those are over $100, and the changes are extremely minor.

Here’s why I’m commenting on it.  It drives me nuts that people are trying to use me and my teaching to exploit my students.  It annoys me that they are trying to harass (a.k.a. nag) and use guilt on university educators; even my (Jewish) mother doesn’t believe in guilt trips or nagging! And it annoys me that they send them repeatedly, even though the only time I responded (to ask them to take me off their list), it did no good.  Whatever my students’ flaws may be, they don’t deserve to be exploited via their reading lists.

So back off, buckos, and stop trying to sell them something that they can get for free!  Although….. hey, buckos – want to buy a bridge in Brooklyn?  I’d be happy to meet with you about it, and discuss how it would benefit you and your company.  I could give you a good price.


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