With a postal service like this one, we need e-textbooks

Summary:I just want to actually have my textbook in my hands at some point before I have to sit down and take my midterm. Is that too much to ask, USPS?

There's been a lot of buzz lately about Apple's "textbook transformation."

Apple fans and textbook fans alike have been salivating at the prospect of all the beautiful interactive textbooks for $15, ergonomic freedom from heavy book-filled knapsacks, and goodies like digital flashcards.

Others have been worried about a widening digital divide, since the buy-in for the iPad (a breakable device in the hands of students) is so high, and textbooks are already inaccessible to so many needy kids.

Concern for publishers and their content has caused Apple to be accused of being evil in their licensing practices. A backlash of outcry against "greedy" publishers has brought to light some criticisms of the textbook industry in general.

All I want is my damn book!

That's right. I want the book I ordered on January 13, at the start of my College Algebra class.

To make a long story short, I have the AS degree which enabled me to become licensed as an RN, but I also have to get an AA to be able to pursue my BSN. So, while working, I've been finishing up the classes I need, one-by-one, in order to matriculate to UCF.

The second I got the syllabus, I ordered the book on my husband's Amazon account. I expected to wait an extra day or two because the post office was closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a United States federal holiday. But the wait for the book is going on two weeks, which is getting ridiculous.

I have been tracking the book daily with my trusty tracking number. I have watched it travel to two sorting facilities in North Carolina, swing by Dallas, TX, pop in to say hi in Springfield, MA, and joyride through Jersey City, NJ. There it's been sitting for the past two days. I'm in Florida. Each day it travels farther and farther away from me.

I love algebra. Why doesn't my book want to be with me?

I called the USPS on their 800-number, and somehow managed to finally reach a clueless human. They can tell me where my book is, but not where it's headed, or when it will get here. Presumably it's still headed here, although why it went north to go south is still a mystery. Just another part of the well-publicized post office meltdown of late, I guess. If this is what things look like before their coming "slow-down," I dread seeing what it looks like after.

My college bookstore price gouges frightfully on new and used books alike, so I bought a used one from an Amazon reseller, instead of buying a new one from Amazon. I could have had two day shipping (because my husband is an Amazon Prime member) if I'd been willing to spend the exorbitant amount they wanted for a new textbook. But the last new textbook I bought from Amazon didn't arrive in new condition, and it was full price, so I sent it back. Also, it's probably fair to point out that not every student has the $79 a year to spend on an Amazon Prime membership.

At this point, I sure would love one of those e-textbooks, whether whispersent to my Kindle, or downloaded to the family iPad. To have it for $15 would be a dream. Heck, to have it for the $75 used price would be okay, too (although I'm counting on reselling this one when I'm done with it, and would be unable to if I downloaded a digital version). There is, unfortunately, no digital version available anywhere for this particular text. I just simply want to actually have it in my hands at some point before I have to sit down and take my midterm.

Don't tell me this isn't about health. Education is part of health, and being this stressed out about a thing isn't healthy. So there's your health angle.

Last semester I used Pearson's excellent MathXL for a different hybrid online math class, but was unable to make use of it on the iPad because if the iPad's bizarre no Flash restriction. That math program would have been so perfect on that tablet, it was a real shame not to be able to use it. It would be nice if publishers, on their way to signing their souls away to Apple, could negotiate something where their ancillary products would actually work on the iPad. But I digress.

In the meantime, I'll be looking for algebra videos on YouTube and Khan Academy, and relying on my class notes and other online resources.

See also:

Topics: iPad, Amazon, Apple, CXO, Health, IT Employment, Legal, Mobility

About

Denise Amrich is a Registered Nurse who also has 20 years of operations, logistics, and editorial management experience. She is the health care advisor for the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, and a mentor for the Virtual Campus at Florida's Brevard Community College.Denise co-founded ZATZ Publishing, and has been the managing editor... Full Bio

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