Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Textbooks are defined as "a manual of instruction, a standard book in any branch of study". They are further defined by both the age of the person who is to study the text and the classification of the subject matter itself. Textbooks are published by speciality printers to serve every request for an undertanding of every subject that can be taught. It is a big business that requires mass volume sales to make the publications profitable. Although most textbooks are only published in printed format with hard covers, some can now be viewed online.
United States of America
In U.S. colleges, textbooks are usually chosen by the professor teaching the academic course. In most U.S. K-12 schools, a local school board votes on which textbooks to purchase from a selection of books that have been approved by the State Board of Education.
Textbooks for K-12
Termed School books, these are texts written for use in academic settings. Lower schools, especially kindergarten through 12th grade, more often refer to texts as school books. Text book is a synonym, but is more often used to describe books used by upper level classes.
School books emerged as teaching instruments with Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. Early schoolbooks were used by teachers, who relied on the books for lesson guidance. Later books were printed for children, and have become the primary teaching instrument for most children since the 19th century.
CONTROVERSY: Textbook publishing in the United States of America is a business primarily aimed at two key states: California and Texas due to the state purchasing controls over the books. When publishers succeed in making a sale to either of both states they are guaranteed a large print run and therefore a profitable product. The Texas State Board of Education spends in excess of $600 million on its central purchasing of textbooks.
Unfortunately because textbook publishing is a competitive business, when mistakes occur they are costly to remedy and when objections to either the inclusion or the exclusion of material are voiced, the publishers attempt to compromise in an effort to make the sale. As a result of this procedure glaring errors have cropped up in textbooks covering almost every subject. Some are so bad as to be laughable, until both the cost factor and the use to which these books will be put, causing the laughter to turn to public anger which is often voiced in the press.
PRICE: Many university students complain of unreasonably high textbook costs, sometimes $100 USD or more. They often claim that this represents price gouging on the part of the publisher. Furthermore, they say that often a publisher will print a new edition of a textbook solely to make the older editions obsolete; this temporarily eliminates the used textbook market, thereby boosting the publisher's profits.
Publishers say that textbooks are indeed as expensive to produce as their prices indicate. Textbooks have a very limited market—almost exclusively college students who need the book for a course—and would be unprofitable to produce if they were priced any lower. Additionally, textbooks are often thick, printed on heavy paper, and printed in color, all of which dramatically increase their cost.
CHOICE: Sometimes students and parents claim that certain textbooks have been selected for use because of factors irrelevant to their teaching efficacy. The most common complaint at the university level is that professors will use a textbook written by themselves or their colleagues.
- Wikibooks  - A sister project to Wikipedia whose goal is to create textbooks.
- Four Freedoms Federation - Genie Baskir appeared before the Texas Board of Education, Textbook Selection Committee concerning content of school textbooks.
- How Textbooks Get Made: Confessions of a Textbook Editor
- History Textbook Controversies in Japan
- Improving the Use of Elementary Social Studies Textbooks
- High School Biology Textbooks Do Not Meet National Standards
- The Textbook League
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