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Calculus Textbook Author James Stewart Has Died 170

Onnimikki writes James Stewart, author of the calculus textbooks many of us either loved or loved to hate, has died. In case you ever wondered what the textbook was funding, this story has the answer: a $32 million dollar home over-looking a ravine in Toronto, Canada.
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Calculus Textbook Author James Stewart Has Died

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... Figures.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I have a hard time feeling anything for someone who contributed thousands to college students financial aid bills while build a house worth that much.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's the dirty little secret in all this.

        Success in textbook publishing has more to do with getting institutions to force a particular textbook on their students then it does writing books that actually help those students.

        There are more than a few rich academics that have figured out how to jump on that gravy train that is modern education.

        We were warned years ago about the military-industrial complex. There's also the political-academic complex to worry about, too.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Pro tip: financial success has everything to do with persuading people to give you money.

        • by fiziko ( 97143 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @09:53PM (#48639323) Homepage

          The difference between his book and SO MANY of the other textbooks I have is that his is actually good. Why do you think everyone recognizes the name "James Stewart" as the calculus author? Is there a definite textbook author for any other courses? I've got two physics degrees and an education degree, and Stewart's calculus and David Griffiths' Electricity and Magnetism texts were the only two that seemed to be so pervasive.

          The main complaints need to be directed at publishers, not authors. Stewart started with a slow update cycle, but then publishers started putting books out of print and demanding new editions every two years to eliminate the used textbook sales market and try to force every student onto new editions. (If a book is out of print, the prof needs to order a new edition, because there is no other way to ensure there are enough available for all students.) Stewart is one of the authors who chose to meet the accelerated publication schedule instead of bowing out. Why begrudge him for filling a void that the publisher would fill with or without his help? I once tried ordering a textbook through a local brick and mortar store. This was 1998: the book was $110 at the campus bookstore, and the local Chapters (now owned by Indigo) expected to bring it in for a cost of $95 to me as a special order. They called before finalizing the order because the publisher checked their address and noticed they were not on campus, and changed to cost to them. Using the same proportionate markup, they would now have to charge me $180 for the same book. Tell me there's not gouging of customers going on there... (I spent $110 on campus instead, and ordered the rest of my textbooks online in later years to compete without the address flag. Saved an average of 15%, even after shipping fees.)

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Kasar ( 838340 )
            You wouldn't want people studying Calculus in 2014 from a 1998 book. It would obviously be outdated with all that has changed.
            I mean there was the... umm.. and the...

            Really though, the last ethics class I took required an e-book with a 3 use license and six month expiration that cost $130. So, after six months, there is no access to the material at all, like a returned library book without even the value of a paper-bound book that could be burned for warmth.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              Halliday and Resnick's Physics book is from 1960 and is still widely used. In fact those two names are so more known than James Stewart's name.

            • Really though, the last ethics class I took required an e-book with a 3 use license and six month expiration that cost $130. So, after six months, there is no access to the material at all, like a returned library book without even the value of a paper-bound book that could be burned for warmth.

              Well, ironically that probably taught you a lot about ethics.

              • by jd2112 ( 1535857 )

                Really though, the last ethics class I took required an e-book with a 3 use license and six month expiration that cost $130. So, after six months, there is no access to the material at all, like a returned library book without even the value of a paper-bound book that could be burned for warmth.

                Well, ironically that probably taught you a lot about ethics.

                Most of it was copied verbatim from the Enron Corporate Ethics Handbook.

          • it's garbage, trying to fill too many roles and full of bloat, though some of this is the publisher's fault.

            either dumb it down some more, or use a better book like Apostol [amazon.com]. either way, that goddam tome is an anachronistic brick. i fucking hated calculus in high school, yet wound up with a Ph.D. in applied math once i got real teachers and real books.

            fuck hell, when did Apostol go up to $220? i thought it was ridiculously expensive when i bought it years ago...

            • either dumb it down some more, or use a better book like Apostol. either way, that goddam tome is an anachronistic brick.

              I agree. "Tommy I" and "Tommy II" are decent actual intros to calc. (To the non-math geeks out there, these are common names for Apostol's books.)

              For those not ready to take the plunge into real calc with Apostol, better to do a simpler intro version first... Stewart's book is like the MS Word of calc textbooks -- bloated and trying to serve everybody. Most people would be better off with either something like Wordpad/text editor or using a real typesetting/layout app for serious formatting.

          • Mary Boas' Mathematical Physics book is pretty good, and the second edition was in publication forever.

          • The difference between his book and SO MANY of the other textbooks I have is that his is actually good. Why do you think everyone recognizes the name "James Stewart" as the calculus author?

            I recognise Silvanus Thompson as the calculus author. He died a quarter of a century before this Stewart newbie was born. And since his calculus text was written in 1910, the cost to students is $0 [gutenberg.org].

      • by turkeyfish ( 950384 ) on Saturday December 20, 2014 @12:17AM (#48639823)

        Perhaps you can feel better knowing that he has given the entire proceedings from the sale of the house to a variety of charities.

        His textbook will long remain one of the best, for its completeness and clarity of exposition. As for the price of my copy, it was worth every penny.

      • I mostly agree, though he gets some grudging admiration not letting the publishers bag it all.

    • Stewart might have been a singular phenomenon. How many textbook authors even do well, much less become wealthy?

      In some sense his book evolved not to be his book, but a brand name and industry. It exists in numerous editions, some functionally variant ("Early Transcendentals"), and some specifically formulated for one institution, in addition to the arisen phenomenon of annual editions that seem cynically designed to kill the used textbook market.

      Price and physical weight (clay coated paper) aside, a

      • ...So, though was Hughes-Hallett, and she probably does not live in an exceptional custom house/concert hall.

        Did you look at the slideshow? That house looks like a sterile, uncomfortable place to live. I see people who live in places like that and I wonder if their emotional landscape is as barren as their domiciles.

        • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

          Sure beats the overstuffed doilies everywhere style that overly emotional people prefer.

          • Yes, but those aren't the only choices. There's also a style that's comfortable, uncluttered, with warm colors, that I prefer. Oh, and with an indoor exercise pool. :-)
    • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Saturday December 20, 2014 @12:04AM (#48639779) Homepage Journal

      When I studied calculus the hardest part was studying calculus, not buying the book. Textbooks were a lot cheaper.

      Even cheaper, my math teacher used to organize book-buying from Taiwan.

      At that time (1959), there was no copyright agreement between the U.S. and Taiwan (and besides, they were fighting Communism), so it was completely legal.

      They cost about a tenth of U.S. prices. The publisher he used had reprints of all the popular math and science books (like Dover, except not limited to to public domain). They had an entire Encyclopedia Britannica for about $25.

      Dover of course used to re-publish the out-of-copyright and out-of-print math and science classics. There was a time when a professor could have a rare out-of-print book, that nobody else could get, and teach an entire class out of that book. Dover put an end to that.

      Of course the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act put an end to Dover (or at least their reprint business) by extending the copyright to 100 years after the author's death.

      So the great classics, like Yakov Perelman's Physics for Entertainment (the world's largest-selling physics textbook), are now out of print, even though Perelman died in the siege of Leningrad.

      The other source of cheap textbooks was the Soviet Foreign Languages Publishing House in Moscow, which translated all the great Soviet science and math textbooks, including Perelman's, into every major language of the world, including English, and sold them cheaply everywhere. They were even cheaper than Dover, $2 apiece. And the Soviets didn't believe in copyright, so Dover or anybody could reprint them. I've heard Indian scientists reminisce about how they grew up reading Perelman as children.

      It's too bad the Soviet Union didn't survive until the Internet. They could have put all their scientific, literary and music works online copyright-free.

      • As someone who did not study math in higher education but now wants to learn more it is quite difficult to find out which math text books have the best content. Would someone please suggest some books and authors of great texts I can then search for?

        I would ideally like to build up a bookshelf of great maths texts to go alongside the computing books I already have.

        • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Saturday December 20, 2014 @11:14AM (#48641313) Homepage Journal

          As someone who did not study math in higher education but now wants to learn more it is quite difficult to find out which math text books have the best content. Would someone please suggest some books and authors of great texts I can then search for?

          I would ideally like to build up a bookshelf of great maths texts to go alongside the computing books I already have.

          You know, I used to have a good answer, but because of New York City Mayor Bloomberg, I can't give you an answer any more. He destroyed the library with the greatest collection of introductory math books that I've ever seen.

          We used to have a library in Manhattan, on a prime piece of real estate opposite the Museum of Modern Art, called the Donnell. It had collections of books for young adults, which in library-speak means high school students and above. They had librarians who understood the subjects, and worked with high school teachers to develop excellent collections of books with good content that would grab you when you took them off the shelf and started to read.

          They had a collection of science books and a collection of math books in two big bookcases. Those bookcases contained every great math book I read or wanted to read in high school. Sometimes I'd find a book in the library, and buy a copy in the bookstore.

          The Donnell was a beautiful library, in the 1930s style of Rockefeller Center, a fitting match for the Museum of Modern Art, where you could sit and read by huge picture windows. It was a hangout for teenagers from around the city, who used to come there to do their homework and their research. They also had an auditorium where they held poetry readings. It was a New York institution.

          After 80 years, the Donnell could have used some repairs and upgrading to its heating and air conditioning system and so forth. Instead of paying for the repairs, Bloomberg decided to tear down the library. He had connections to a real estate company that came up with a plan to build a hotel on the site. They would have a much smaller library down in the basement. But it wouldn't have the same young adult science, math and other collections (which were scattered among other libraries around the City). The real estate company would make a lot of money, the City would get some, and use the money to "improve" the library system and buy more computers. It was controversial, people fought it, but Bloomberg was a billionaire and he won. They fired all the expert librarians, and tore down the Donnell.

          Then the real estate market collapsed, so Bloomberg's real estate friends couldn't deliver what they promised.

          I've talked to many science librarians in the public library. There is no longer any place in the City where you can find a collection of science and math books like that. They couldn't even give me a bibliography of books like that. It's gone. In fact, they fired most of the expert librarians, and replaced them with computer specialists. They don't really know the subject. You ask them a question and they look in a database.

          The best thing I could recommend now is to find a math teacher. It used to be that you could go to a college campus, walk over to the math department, and find somebody who would be happy to give you advice. Now, with all the security, you might not be able to get in the door any more without an ID card. Or you might be able to find a good librarian. If you find a good bibliography, let me know.

          (The classics that I remember, BTW, were The World of Mathematics, which was a historical collection of sources, Courant's Introduction to Mathematics, and Polya's How to Find It. There were so many more. If it wasn't for the Copyright Act, you could get them all free on line today.)

          • Yes, I bought some of the Landau and Lifchitz books at the time for $3, they are now worth $150 at Springer...Younger self should have believed in himself more. Funny to see that now we can download 5000 C64 games for free, not to mention MAME roms, a good PC is $500, (at the time, $30 per game, a decent PC was $3000 of the time) but those books are 50 times more expensive...and the content still worth it.
      • Dover of course used to re-publish the out-of-copyright and out-of-print math and science classics. There was a time when a professor could have a rare out-of-print book, that nobody else could get, and teach an entire class out of that book. Dover put an end to that.

        Of course the Mickey Mouse Copyright Extension Act put an end to Dover (or at least their reprint business) by extending the copyright to 100 years after the author's death.

        Does anyone ever bother to fact-check their rants before posting them to Slashdot?

        Astronomy [doverpublications.com]
        Biology and Medicine [doverpublications.com]
        Chemistry [doverpublications.com]
        Computer Science [doverpublications.com]
        Earth Science [doverpublications.com]
        Engineering [doverpublications.com]
        General Science [doverpublications.com]
        Mathematics [doverpublications.com]
        Physics [doverpublications.com]

        • by nbauman ( 624611 )

          Yes, they can reprint out-of-print books that are more than 100 years old, but they can no longer reprint out-of-print books that are 30 years old, which is how they started in the 1950s. I still can't get the Dover books that I read in the 1960s, because they're orphaned, copyrighted books.

          They couldn't even reprint the 1917 edition of Growth and Form. http://store.doverpublications... [doverpublications.com] They had to get permission and pay royalties to Cambridge.

          I did do a bit of research on this because I work in the publish

          • by darenw ( 74015 )

            "(Although the copyright law is so complicated, especially for international works, that it would cost thousands of dollars or more in legal fees to figure out what copyright law applies.)"

            I wonder - what is the point of having laws so complcated, convoluted, ambiguous, detailed or otherwise difficult than no one can figure out what's legal, except by tremendous effort and expense?

  • by guacamole ( 24270 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @09:00PM (#48639129)

    Having passed away, since Mr Stewart can no longer update the textbook every year or so, does this mean that this Calculus text will finally stabilize, stop being updated, and the prices would drop?

    • +5 funny.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      Nope. Just because Mr Stewart isn't around doesn't mean new updates/reshuffles won't be coming out every year.

      First of all.... he's probably already written the plan for next 2 to 3 year's worth of versions of the books

      Second of all.... his editor can continue to make minor updates to the book ad infintium.

    • Having passed away, since Mr Stewart can no longer update the textbook every year or so, does this mean that this Calculus text will finally stabilize, stop being updated, and the prices would drop?

      Uh, no. When this happens, publishers just find another "co-author" to add on to the title page. If it's like most textbooks, the new author will make a few minor tweaks here and there, rewrite only one chapter in any significant way (or simply add a new chapter somewhere), and then move back to the standard "renumber the pages and exercises" for subsequent "revised" editions.

      • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @09:49PM (#48639313)

        rewrite only one chapter in any significant way (or simply add a new chapter somewhere), and then move back to the standard "renumber the pages and exercises" for subsequent "revised" editions.

        Rewrite? As in actually revise the text? No way.

        I teach out of a thermodynamics text that gets churned every year or so. Never mind that engineering thermodynamics hasn't changed a whit in about a century, but the homework problems get reshuffled. Once in a while they'll actually try to rewrite some of the homework problems, mangling them badly. I redo all of the problems to ensure that the solutions are actually correct (many are not). I'm actually writing many of my own homework problems now and allowing students to purchase any edition of the text that they can find (as the 3rd edition is effectively as good as the 8th edition as far as being a reference to solve problems).

        It's pissing me and the students off because they really do need to have a text. However, this churning bullshit and jacking up of prices is actually causing some of the students to try to wing it through the class without a text, which is not going to end well They do need a basic reference for exams and practical problems. But they could probably do fine with a text from 1920 if they were comfortable using it.

        Textbook publishers are right up there with advertisers and telephone sanitizers. Shoot the bastards into space and be done with them.

        • Textbook publishers are right up there with advertisers and telephone sanitizers. Shoot the bastards into space and be done with them.

          Advertisers perform a useful service, but I really have to point out that sending the telephone sanitizers onto the colony ship resulted in the complete destruction of the Golgafrinchans. Why do so many people misperceive that point, and compare (group of people they believe are useless) with the telephone sanitizers?

        • Rewrite? As in actually revise the text? No way.

          Thanks for taking one word from my post without the requisite context and using it as a basis for an ill-informed rant (or, rather, an informed rant about something different from what I was talking about).

          Look, I hate the textbook edition nonsense as much as you, but my post was specifically about what usually happens when A NEW AUTHOR is added. I know major textbook authors personally. I've seen generational shifts where a new co-author is added onto a textbook. Usually that is when revision is most

        • It's pissing me and the students off because they really do need to have a text.

          How long is this going to be true with resources like Khan Academy, Purple math, and everything else out there?

          I am currently pissed at my calculus text(Larson/Edwards 5thEd ETC). While I read the chapters, more than half the book is actually just problems to work out, and worse, the methods to solve said problems are often not in the text. So I'd place my actual learning at about 10% textbook(and I'm being generous), 30% lecture, 20% math tutoring/TA help, 40% internet.

          When the teacher is assigning rough

          • So I'd place my actual learning at about 10% textbook(and I'm being generous), 30% lecture, 20% math tutoring/TA help, 40% internet.

            Since I don't know your specific situation, I could be completely misinterpreting what you mean. But it seems you have 0% "figure out the problem".

            Math isn't a subject that has to be learned the way foreign language or geography has to be learned. If you don't have something described to you in a book, then you absolutely need another reference to learn most subjects (such as a TA, Lecture, or Internet).

            But with math you never need a reference for anything but definitions, and most definitions should be o

            • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

              Since I don't know your specific situation, I could be completely misinterpreting what you mean. But it seems you have 0% "figure out the problem".

              Math isn't a subject that has to be learned the way foreign language or geography has to be learned. If you don't have something described to you in a book, then you absolutely need another reference to learn most subjects (such as a TA, Lecture, or Internet).

              But with math you never need a reference for anything but definitions, and most definitions should be obv

            • Since I don't know your specific situation, I could be completely misinterpreting what you mean. But it seems you have 0% "figure out the problem".

              Yeah, you're off. Really, my solve rate was darn near 100%, but I hit the occasional spot where I was asking 'what the hell are they looking for me to produce?' - and the answer wasn't in the book.

              I wasn't counting the problems where I already knew what to do, or could figure it out without outside assistance. That's practice, not learning. Of my learning, IE learning the symbols, the properties of various constants and such, the execution of various rules*, that was done as I said - mostly NOT using the

        • I teach out of a thermodynamics text that gets churned every year or so.

          Well, then don't. I went through university in the English system, up to and including being a lecturer for a while. The simple solution to this problem is simply to NOT teach out of a text book in this way. It is simply not in the unicersity culture here to to that.

          Textbooks are helpful but the students do not need THAT specific textbook.

          The first thing to do is write the questions yourself[*]. They're not nearly as hard to write as ex

    • does this mean that this Calculus text will finally stabilize, stop being updated, and the prices would drop?

      Ahahahaha. *cough cough* Sorry, excuse me hahahaha

    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      Well, first-year calculus hadn't changed in 250 years, and second-year calculus hadn't changed in 100 years, so I'm guessing the updating isn't going to stop.

    • Yay! Only 75 more years until I can study Calculus for free!
    • by darenw ( 74015 )

      The textbook publishers could start following the ways of the fine arts world. As soon as an artist keel over, his/her works become more valuable. Certainly not because the works will be revised annually.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Somehow I greatly resent people who profit massively from kids' math textbooks. He was such a person.
    Here's a picture of some Indian kids using a bridge as a school.
    Wonder how much toll Stewart would feel they should pay him for the privilege of learning stuff invented by Newton.
    http://i.guim.co.uk/static/w-620/h--/q-95/sys-images/Environment/Pix/pictures/2013/9/18/1379522585111/Indian-children-attend-a--008.jpg

    • by Anonymous Coward

      invented by Newton.

      You forgot Leibnitz, you innumerate clod.

    • by theskipper ( 461997 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @09:42PM (#48639295)

      RTFA. It clearly says that it wasn't all from textbook sales but also from "astute investments". Sounds like the guy worked hard and had his shit together financially.

      • Yea, astute investments in what? Textbook company stocks?

        • Most likely not. Based on a cursory look at Scholastic, McGraw-Hill and John Wiley, only the latter has returned close to a 10-bagger in the last 20 years. Of course the obvious stock in the book space is Amazon at 100x+.

          But the point is that there have been tons of investment opportunities that yielded extraordinary returns over that period. Being "astute" means you get rewarded for great due diligence, mixed in with good timing and some luck. It's the same for everyone who takes risk by investing, he

          • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @10:57PM (#48639605)

            One of the few things worse than greed is jealousy and there's lots of that around here. The man was smart and successful. The fact that he made a lot of money writing textbooks is what it is. The market is bogus and we all know it but writers gotta write. I can't believe the textbook scam is still going on full steam. I remember back in the 70's paying over 50 dollars for a biology textbook that I never used. All the tests were from the lectures in that class. I did get half the money back when I sold it after the class ended to a guy taking it the next quarter. I'm sure he didn't use it either because he had the same professor.

            • you're so sure that people here are merely jealous rather than spiteful at someone profiting off a system they correctly see as bullshit.

              there is, actually, a difference between "hey, i want that!" and "hey, i could have had that if i were an amoral asshole. fuck this world."

              of course they can both be stupid and counterproductive (particularly, the latter is just wrong), but it's a bit silly to use the same label for both.

              • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

                I know how people are and yes I'm pretty sure most are just jealous. I know how many people I've seen that while pious and self-righteous while in positions where they had little power or impact later attained promotions and became tyrants and micro-managing assholes. Most bitching is nothing more than envy. Maybe you are pure of heart but if so you are in the minority.

            • It's not jealousy. It's envy.

      • Sounds like the guy worked hard and had his shit together financially.

        Or taking advantage of a forced captive audience by charging crushing $250+ USD prices for a math textbook. Hard to swallow when Dover can manage to charge $20 for a text.

      • RTFA. It clearly says that it wasn't all from textbook sales but also from "astute investments". Sounds like the guy worked hard and had his shit together financially.

        Use some common sense - unless you have Warren Buffet levels of financial acuity or a great deal of luck, you don't accumulate that much cash via investments unless you start with a pile of cash nearly that size.

        • Put it this way, before 1980, sure. But over the last 30 or so years it's been a different ballgame.

          There were 100 baggers available by selling at the top of the internet bubble. Or buying MDVN 10 years ago or tucking away some AAPL in the dark days. And these opportunities aren't dying out; for example, the same scenario is playing again right now in immuno/gene therapy.

          Expand that out to real estate, Forex, domain names or just about any other investment/speculative vehicle over that time and you're ta

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      I have a friend who was a medical entomologist and journal editor before he retired. I ran into him while I was browsing a book table at a conference, and mentioned that I'd like to buy one of the medical entomology textbooks but the $250 price tag was a bit steep.

      "Just wait," he said. "I'm about to change that. I'm writing a new textbook that will be a lot cheaper. I want students and public health departments to be able to afford a solid medical entomology reference."

      When his book came out the publishe

      • Pity that people can't self-publish these days...

        Oh, wait!

        • Can you self-publish and get any respect from college book departments? Professors might be fairly easy, but getting the okay from your department to use a non-certified publisher/reviewed book might be difficult. Can you sell enough in order to justify printing sufficient quantities such that printing costs alone don't swamp most of the price difference?

          It's not easy. Especially if he was under contract with the publisher for it and they pulled some shenanigans in order to raise the price.

          That being sai

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          That was a dozen years ago. He can't self-publish *now* because he has a contract with Springer.

    • Somehow I greatly resent people who profit massively from kids' math textbooks. He was such a person.

      How would you prefer people to get rich?

      I don't agree with the philosophy that people aren't supposed to get rich helping people, if anything those are exactly the sort of people we want to get rich.

  • a wonderful life?

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?

  • Better than Leithold, not as good as Frahleigh.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @09:58PM (#48639343) Homepage

    I learned from that text, and only just unpacked it onto a shelf the other day.

    When I eventually grokked (some) calculus it was via his book.

    Peace out, James Stewart.

  • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @10:07PM (#48639385)

    I really fucking hate this about academia. It's absolutely shameless to charge college students $244 [amazon.com] for a single dumb textbook. It's not even that good. It's just that when a department chooses to standardize on a textbook, the move has inertia and is basically impossible to reverse. Then, the publisher can charge something absurd, and everybody pays it, because it is a required text. It's so dirty, because it's profiteering from people who are often barely making ends meet, and typically buying the book with debt.

    What really bothers me is that nobody seems willing to do anything about it. If a big, publicly funded university system set aside some money to create and regularly update their core STEM curriculum textbooks - let's start with Calculus, Physics, GenChem, GenBio - it would certainly cost less than the almost $1000 per student that the textbook purchases cost. These universities have Nobel Prize winners among their faculty, surely they have the in-house resources to create excellent textbooks and distribute them on some sort of open license like CC. Arranging sabbaticals for the authors might cost at most a million dollars, or roughly 4000 Stewart Calculus books. That might be about the number of Calc 1, Phys 1, GenChem and GenBio books that are sold on a single campus in a single year.

    But this move would help everybody, not just within the entire UC system that funded the effort, but across the globe. And the costs of updating and embellishing future editions would be far less. I'm so mad that a large university system doesn't just make this happen. And yes, raise fucking tuition by $200 to pay for it, if you absolutely have to. In exchange for textbooks you can have for free (or for printing cost if you don't like digital), everybody will recognize that's a great deal. The courses can explicitly invite students to devise problems for future editions, or to suggest changes and clarifications. And it will bring prestige to the colleges and to the authors, which is worth something too.

    • The problem is money. Even if a university decides to create and publish its own textbook, and then distribute it to the rest of academia, it will eventually fall into the trap of seeing the textbook arm of the school as a money generator and do exactly what the publishers are doing.

      Better solution is to reduce copyright terms. That way, Stewart 1st ed would be in the public domain and anyone would be free to reprint it. It would be like drug manufacturers and generics.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Check out openstax, they are writing pre-reviewed professional open source textbooks ( Creative Commons ) and were funded by Gates, I think the last round of funding got them $10 million for another ten books. http://openstaxcollege.org/books

    • I really fucking hate this about academia.

      Nope, you mean "American undergraduate university teaching", not academia.

      This is not an academic thing. This is something very peculiar to undergraduate teaching in the US.

      I think partly it is the obsession with setting millions of questions for students to do. That way one can make it easy on the lecturer by declaring that the student just do a bunch from a textbook.

      The system I went through doesn't even remotely work in that way. At the very beginning the lecture

    • by pjpII ( 191291 )

      Actually, the issue here are the incentives in academia. Textbook publishing is not considered meaningful academic publishing in almost any field. The 'coin of the realm' in academia is peer reviewed argumentative publications - this is what 'buys' you tenure, promotion to Full Professor, etc - and those promotions are one of the few ways to get a raise.

      Writing a textbook is time consuming, difficult, and basically unappreciated. From TFA: "He spent seven years on it, saying later that with his teaching, re

  • Differential and Integral Caculus. From Mir publications, Moscow. Almost all the IITians swear by it. Sadly I lost my copy.
  • So no new edition next year?!

  • by Snufu ( 1049644 )

    Now we'll never know how the series ends.

  • Who will blindly rearrange the chapters every year to keep students from buying used texts?
  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Saturday December 20, 2014 @02:05AM (#48640159)

    Well, it seems we're disregarding the actual story in lieu of bitching about textbooks. So here's my story of interest:

    My own stupid textbook story is from Statics. The prof listed a textbook, title, version and ISBN. I ordered online to save some cash, everyone else bought from the campus bookstore.

    About two weeks in, I've failed every homework problem. Turns out the version that was listed, and the version I had bought, was the METRIC version, while the campus bookstore had ordered the IMPERIAL version, which everyone else, including the professor, had (I checked the ISBNs, mine was right, so either they have two versions under the same number, or the bookstore "corrected" it to the imperial version). The problems were the same, save for the units.

    Brief aside: Why the hell is there even an engineering textbook in non-metric units? Who the hell is designing bridges in feet, pounds and slugs? It's probably just to keep American students from buying cheaper foreign copies.

    In any case, we worked out a deal - I just copied the text of the problem before showing my work. My grade instantly shot up. Not quite to an A- despite having passed an "Algebra and Trigonometry" class, I'd never actually been taught trig, and was trying to learn it independently for both Statics and Calc II.

    • I'd never actually been taught trig, and was trying to learn it independently for both Statics and Calc II.

      I tried to learn trigonometry by heart for a long time, and it never worked.
      I would try to learn this : http://tutorial.math.lamar.edu... [lamar.edu] and could not remember anything with 100% certainty.
      Is it cos(a)cos(b)-sin(a)sin(b) or cos(a)cos(b)+sin(a)sin(b), or maybe cos(a)sin(b)+sin(a)cos(b)?
      Anyway, the best way for me was to remember the one formula to rule them all (Euler's):
      e**ix = cos(x)+i*sin(x)

      Using co

  • I used Protter and Morrey, lo these many decades ago.
    • I have mine on shelf three feet to my left. College Calculus with Analytic Geometry (C) 1964, Fourth Printing 1966. We might be old 8D

  • I used Stewart's text at McMaster in '82 as a coil-bound, courier-font tome with hand-drawn diagrams for $10. Steward was my 1st year calculus prof and he was the best math teacher I've ever had. He certainly wasn't rich back then, and if he made shrewd investments with his book income, all the power to him. Remember that the publisher sets the price and profit margin, the author only gets a sliver; fortunately, the book sold well. Publishers are like thieves in the way they force schools to unnecessari
  • To the professors out there. Textbooks don't have to be so expensive. Dover has great titles [doverpublications.com] for under $30. My analysis class was taught with a Dover book and a good teacher. Worked great and saved me who knows how many hundreds of dollars.

  • I teach out of Stewart's Calculus, and here's my "favorite" thing about the text. He has an extensive sidebar detailing the correct spelling of L'Hospital, and why we should honor the man by spelling his name the way he did instead of with the modern French spelling. And then he consistently refers to Johann Bernoulli as John.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie

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