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Evaluation book? Deal first! November 5, 2010

Posted by etschneider in Uncategorized.
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3 comments

Yesterday, while discussing with my colleague, I fell aback.

We were discussing about books evaluation and publishing companies. In the last couple of years, well, in fact since I started working as a Senior Lecturer, I got contact with various publishers and their representatives.

Normal things. It was in Malaysia, so you have different ways of doing things: either in person when the representative is visiting your institution or through e-mail and telephone. The obvious advantage of the latter is that it can happen all along the year, while the contact in person is usually at the end of term and, usually, not planned.

But for both cases, you ask the representative if it is possible to get textbooks for evaluation. It’s not book that we sell or whatever, simply books that we may use or NOT as a textbook for the students. In Malaysia, thanks to Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Singapore’s Wiley’s office, the process was always smooth and fair, without any engagement nor condition. You take the book, fine, you don’t take it? Fine too. In both case, the instructor keeps the book, and preferably gives feedback for improvement.

No gift from the publishers or whatever. A fair evaluation free from any engagement as you can expect about science and higher-education.

So, yesterday my colleague told me that he contacted a local (so in Macedonia) representative for Cengage (previously known as Thomson Course) because he was interested into evaluating a book for his Computer Graphics and Vision Course. The representative of Cengage emailed back to my colleague that there will be no problem…

But with one condition: our university has to engage itself to buy a defined numbers of books, and then later he will be able to receive the book for evaluation.

I am maybe naive, but that shouldn’t be the way to proceed. If we want to evaluate books, we would like to do that without any pressure. It has to be a fair selection.

Computer Science books are often very pricey, we could not advice students to buy books without evaluating them first.

One can argue that by getting free textbooks we may already be biased. It may happen yes, we may be inclined to favour publishers, who send us books for evaluation. But usually we make the competition enter into action: by contacting various publishers for various books.

But forcing us to “buy” xx books before even getting the chance to evaluate the book, that’s another situation.

I am glad again that I didn’t face this problem myself, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Wiley were fair to me in Malaysia, and the representative of Wiley in “Eastern” Europe is very professional.

I am only wondering if it is a common problem or just an isolated one. I do hope for the latter, though.