It'll take more than this for your next textbook ripoff! Fight Back Against Textbook Ripoffs! Hopefully your next textbook ripoff won't take all this too!

Ripoff Publisher Interview - Part 2 Back

CEO (pulls a textbook out of the paper sack and opens its front cover): Look here. It says on the left, "The Most Flexibility of any MIS Textbook." On the right it says, "Omit any chapter you don't want--you can still cover the corresponding module." After that it says, "Omit any module you don't want--it will not affect your ability to cover the chapters."

As a matter of fact, the instructor can omit the whole book. We don't care, just as long as he makes the students buy it. That's what we mean by "flexibility."

STUDENT: But I still have to pay for the book, even if a lot of it isn't assigned by the professor? Or if she assigns it but then doesn't include any of the material on a test?

CEO: Of course.

CEO (flips to the next page): To make the book attractive, the left page doesn't have any text on it. The right page is the title page. It has two lines, "Management Information Systems" and "For the Information Age." The rest of the page is blank. We leave a lot of blank pages in the front and back of the book for the benefit of the students. You never know when you might need to make a paper airplane and don't have any paper.

CEO (flips to the next page): The left page doesn't have any text on it either--but it's in color. That really adds value for the students. The right page is another title page, except it has the authors' names and information about the publisher. It's very important for students to know that OO Publishing has offices in Beverly Hills CA, Greenwich CT, Palm Beach FL, Scarsdale NY, Winnetka IL and 21 other wealthy communities around the world.

STUDENT: Yeah, sure, that's really important to me.

CEO (flips to the next page): Look, this left page actually has some text on it--all the copyright and publishing information, the ISBN, etc. And see--it tells us that the book is published on acid-free paper. That costs more, but it makes the book last a lot longer. So it will still be usable two years from now after the next edition comes out, even though most faculty will require the new one. Actually it will be in good condition 50 years from now, even after everything in the book is ancient history.

For the Instructors, Authors, Publishers, etc.
2 pages inside front cover for instructors
1 blank page
1 blank (olive drab) page
1 (second) title page (with publisher information)
1 dedication
1 blank (olive drab) page
2 pages of preface
6 pages telling instructor how great book is
1 page of changes for 5th edition
4 pages for instructor
2 pages of acknowledgements
1 page from the authors
1 page about authors (includes picture of dogs)
1 page about the contributors
1 blank (olive drab) page
1 (third!) title page
2 blank (olive drab) pages (pp. 419 and 493)
1 page of photo credits
7 blank pages at the end
Subtotal: 37 out of around 600 pages

STUDENT: Thank you so much. That really makes me feel good.

CEO: Hey, here are the dedications. Lotte Lenya says, "To Darin: You have brains in your head You're strong as a tree Oh, the places you'll go Oh, the things you will see (Adapted from Dr. Seuss)"

STUDENT: Gee, that's really touching.

CEO: Now there are 9 pages for the table of contents. The 10th page is also blank, but it's in color!

CEO (flips page): Here's the Preface. It goes on for 8 pages. It gives the instructor information about how to use the book to teach the course.

STUDENT: Couldn't you put all the information for the instructor in a separate booklet, so the students don't have to pay for it?

CEO (adjusts ski mask): Well the instructor might lose the booklet, but the instructor probably won't lose the textbook. So we put it in all the textbooks just to be safe. Also there might be a one or two students in the class who decide to go into a teaching career. We don't know which students they might be, so we have to put it in all the textbooks.

CEO (flips some pages): This page summarizes the Changes for the Fifth Edition. It includes, "1. Instructor feedback on the fourth edition. 2. Changes that have occurred in the business world. 3. Advances that have occurred in the technology arena. 4. Changes made by our competitors." It also tells you that we updated chapters 2, 5, 7 and 9.

STUDENT: Is that going to be on the final?

CEO: Actually we find that most instructors put it on the midterm. And here are four more pages of information for the instructor about the CD, the publisher's web site, etc.

CEO (flips some more pages): Now here is a really important part of the book--the Acknowledgements. It tells about all the great people at OO Publishing who worked with the authors to produce this book. We name about 20 of our people in this section. Check out these sample quotes: "OO Publishing's strategic management is second to none." "Jenny Diver leads this wonderful group of people." "We wish to acknowledge the wonderful efforts of our contributor team:"

CEO: Here's another quote--"we offer our gratitude to our reviewers who took on a thankless job that only paid a fraction of it's true worth." Instead of paying them, we gave them a copy of the textbook and filled over a page with their names. Then the cost of including their names in the textbook goes into the price you students pay. We hardly pay them anything but you pay us more. That's a win-win situation for us.

CEO (flips page): Here is a great quote in the page titled From the Authors: "My two four-legged sons--Indiana and Zippy--don't really even care that I write books; they offer me unconditional love." When you turn the page, you see a nice picture of the author's "two four-legged sons" (white dogs).

STUDENT: That's really sweet. I am so ashamed of myself for complaining about the price of textbooks.

CEO: Here's something about the contributors to the book. Now flip that page. On the left is another blank page, but it has color on it. On the right is an identical copy of the first cover page--exactly the same 7 words.

STUDENT: Hey, isn't that the third copy of the cover page?

CEO: Yes it is. The same text also is on the outside front cover of the book, and on the spine of the book. As you can see, we really emphasize the important information. Here's a summary of the "incidental content" [image of above table shows on screen].

If you add it up, you will see that only about 6 percent of the text is an absolutely complete total waste of your money (not to mention the extra weight in your book bag). I'm sure you understand why we put it all in the book instead of on the Internet for free.

STUDENT: Yeah, I really do. You publishers are such wonderful people.

CEO: Of course we are. When you look at all the details, you see that textbooks are a great bargain. Almost as much of a bargain as ... uh ... uh ... gasoline!

STUDENT: I want my money back! What you took out of my wallet.

CEO (handing STUDENT a $5 bill): Here it is.

STUDENT: Hey, you took $10 out of my wallet! I want the other five back!

CEO: When you buy a new textbook for $100, how much do you get back when you sell it?


CEO: You just answered your own question. That's the way the publishing business works.

STUDENT (starts to chase CEO): You piece of garbage! I'm going to get you.

CEO (grabbing paper sack and running off the left side of the stage): There's not a thing you can do about it. That bank I just knocked off has a better chance of getting its money back than you do. When you're buying your books next semester, just remember our motto:
[voice continues as screen fades into an animation of the following sentence] "We put the ‘higher’ [costs] in ‘higher education’." Back