Enter Rob:Dude, where's my textbook?
We are now six weeks into the semester and the official course textbook for my advanced Mathematics class has finally arrived. Kind of. See if you can spot the difference between the two photos below.
It's not a trick question. One photo is color, the other black and white.
In other words... the picture on the left is from the textbook I would like to have, and the picture on the right is from the crappy illegal photocopy I was forced to make.
How many copies of the new math text does the library have? Two. How many students are in my class? Eight. Not exactly "advanced math." Understandably, our professor has decreed that we are not to take these books from the library.
This would perhaps be excusable if the school bookstore carried the textbook. I don't mind forking out one or even two thousand baht for a color mathematics textbook if it saves me from having to dig through pages and pages of hard to read graphs.
The Payap University bookstore doesn't carry the book however, and the library is only open until 6pm anyway. My classes on Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday finish at 5pm and 5:30pm respectively.
So when can I have a look at the full color original? Sure, I could go out of my way to come to Payap on Friday or Saturday when I have no classes - assuming one of my classmates isn't already reading it. Should I really have to do that though?
It's very frustrating that I have neither the option of checking out a required textbook at the library nor the option of buying it at the university bookstore. The excuse I got from the bookstore staff is that they don't carry most international textbooks because students generally photocopy them.
So in other words, Payap enables massive copyright infringement at the three (very profitable) copy shops on campus by not purchasing textbooks every time a new edition comes out. To avoid what? Having to properly stock the library with unsold, still useful previous editions every four years? Donating the unsold books to charities or public schools? In an absolute worst case scenario - throwing them out at a cost of 10-12,000 baht per course every 3-4 years? (They shouldn’t be expected to stock more than 8-10 copies of any book)
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Payap needs to consider taking steps to stop the copy shops from making illegal copies on campus. Judging by the number of smart phones I see in the hands of my classmates, I think we can afford the genuine article. It wouldn't be long before a substantial used textbook market would spring up anyway.
Scholarship students or students low on cash could still head to the massive copy shop across from three kings monument downtown (which is much cheaper by the way).
Besides, for textbooks worth copying, the real thing isn't that much more expensive than the copies. In the case of my 1300 page JAVA programming text, the original would have cost only 375 baht more when you take into account the price of professionally binding such a monstrous amount of A4 paper.
Payap refuses to meet the most basic standards - having textbooks available for students to purchase or borrow - so for now eager students will have to order a genuine textbook from SE-ED Book Center on the first floor of Carrefour. For some reason, it takes 2-3 months for these relatively cheap international editions to arrive (I believe SE-ED only does bulk orders every so often), so you'll need to have the foresight to order about a semester in advance.