Commentary: On the price of the textbooks

I am writing on the issue of overpriced textbooks in Hong Kong. Every single year, regardless of the inflation rate that the price of official textbook only increase. In the impression of everyone, the price of the textbook doesn’t match the value of the content. Beside, this is discrimination against those who can’t afford it.
What appear ridiculous to me is that the publisher has no basis to charge any user of the knowledge already in public domain. Those textbooks only as a collector and filter of public knowledge. And they likewise use the texts from many ancient authors without regards to their copyright. Since much work is already done by those authors, these collector of copyrighted works shouldn’t posses any more copyright to those article not originated by them than the original author.
To combat with those pointless raising of price, my suggestion is to take the text exclusively from the Internet(like wikipedia). In the age of knowledge explosion, knowledge itself is not a commodity. It is simply against common sense to charge a lefty price for what already exist in public domain. Anyone can act as an editor or author to the public knowledge.
For instance, in a School setting. The school could form a team which
specialize at filtering the content in website like wikipedia. And ideally
they contribute back their ‘school’ only edition back to the website. Then
if they had good connection to the Internet, they can use kiosk to make this website their textbook. For those who don’t have a good connection, the school could printed out these content and distributed that to the student without loyality or liability. (And the content is copyleft.) There are many variation of this idea. But as a Information Society we should maximizes the effect of Internet to narrow the gap between rich and poor, but not retro-fit the advance tool like Internet back to the textbook paradigm. Or worst, exploiting the Internet’s benefit to widening the gap between rich and poor(by raise the textbook’s price, and deprive the poor of the information necessary).
That would be the true intent of Internet.



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