The other day I had topick up the second half of my course reader for my modern theory course. I bemoaned the constant need to purchase reading material during University, when people have some of the least ammounts of money in their lives, and then put 50tl in my pocket, happy that I was in Turkey and not the US, where used textbooks cost at least $80. I went to the photocopy store, and asked for the course packet. I am still not sure that I got the correct one, but it cost me a total of 4tl. That equates to about $2. Now, it was just half of the course reader, so compare that to $40 instead of $80, and it still holds up as amazing. I went home completely happy, thinking that is how texts should be purchased. The reasons why I like it:
- It is cheap. Students cannot always afford those super glossy pages that American universities demand.
- It gives the instructor greater control of the course material. The material that we read tends to be more journal articles and fewer books, which we could rightfully print from the University’s subscription to the online version of journals. The books that we read tend to be originals, which are often out of copyright anyways, so they are allowed (legally) to be free. Course packets allow instructers to mesh together highly relevent aterials instead of teaching to a textbook that does not quite fit the needs of the course, or making students buy multiple textbooks and constantly access journals on their own.
I was just thinking of how forward thinking Turkey is in offering these course packets when I arrived at my Middle East politics course. The instructor felt the need to apologize. He requested a bibliography for our midterm, and yet none of the articles included in our reader had the necesary information to complete a standard bibliography. Why? Because all of the photocopy shops are illegal, and do not have the right to print these materials. The shop that he had chosen had been raided by the police and fined, so they had to get rid of all of the cover pages that had the correct bibliographic information. Hah! The thing that I was loving about my school isn’t actually allowed. But just like so many things in Turkey, they do it despite the law.
Now, I am not usually one for rule-breaking. Those of you who know e well know that I have what would almost be considered a fetish for rules. I love the safety and security that I feel within a well-outlined structure of rules. I love knowing what the social expectations are, and the permissible degrees of deviance. Overall I am all about rules, and the clear communication and the following of them. (Now, how people make and update rules, especially laws, needs a lot of attention and renovation, but that is a different story) However, this particular law is one that I hate, and it stems directly from capitalism. People need to be compensated for their work. Sure, I get that. I consider academics, and writers, even writers of textbooks, to fall under the category of artists, and I consider the copyright of books and magazines to not be that much different than music and films. However, music and films are generally for pleasure whereas academia claims to be for the advancement of sociery and individuals. That information should be free and accessible. I remember watching a film last month about a kid who solved some medical test issue (pancreatic cancer) by accessing free journals via google. THAT is what the world should consist of. Not a bunch of publishing houses hording academic thought (for I truly do not believe that it is the academics that have an issue with copywriting their work.). There needs to be some way that authors can still be compensated for their work and yet people can have free access to the results of their work. I think the main way for doing this is the grants that experts get to DO their research, and that is what should be covered, not the final product. <Sigh> Oh world, you have a lot of growing to do, still.
Now, my final reflective question, is would I want to publish a book and not get paid? No, I wouldn’t. But if I got paid a living stipend the entire time I was writing the book, that would be quite enough for me. And I get that the printers and publishers need to be paid as well, and I am not all about the electronic age of books… but still, there must be some solution.