Looking a gift book in the mouth
Yesterday, I posted about twelve free textbooks.
Woo-hoo, right? Textbooks can easily cost more than $100. They were on a variety of math and science topics.
So, you would think people would be doing a little book-reading jig, right? The “Bookworm Boogie”"?
Well, there was a little problem. At least one of the books indicated it would be delivered in 2025.
That produced some snarky, cynical comments…not here, by the way, although a couple of people asked about it.
Yeah…how dare they give you something for free and then say you won’t get it for fifteen years!
That justifies being mad at them, right?
Um…not for me. I don’t get that reaction at all.
First, let’s say that it doesn’t get delivered until 2025. It would still be free. Somebody on my account might want to read it then. I think one of the oddest ideas is that, as a science book, it would be obsolete by then. I’m not saying you could use it in a classroom, necessarily, but a lot of science is the same as it was fifteen years ago. Some of it is the same as it was in Ancient Greece. I take my hat off to the textbook publishers! They’ve done a great job getting people to believe a science textbook will be worthless in fifteen years! No wonder high schools spend millions of dollars replacing them! Yes, yes, yes, new things develop, and you might want supplemental materials. No, it’s not just textbook makers who think this.
“I conceive of nothing in religion, science, or philosophy that is more than the proper thing to wear, for awhile.”
writing in Wild Talents (1932)
But if you aren’t a Fortean, much of the science in a textbook today will still be valuable to you in fifteen years.
What if they don’t deliver the book to you in 2025?
Wow, they would have tricked you into clicking a button…you’d feel like one of P.T. Barnum’s “suckers”, right? There you would be, perfectly happy on January 1st 2026, having had a wonderful New Year’s Eve the night before. You finally wake up feeling great (the problems of hangovers and over-tiredness having been solved). Your Kindle zips up to you, hovering in the air. You ask it what’s new.
There are some great books that have just fallen into the public domain…so you can get them free! Those are books first published in the USA in 1929…All Quiet on the Western Front, A Farewell to Arms, the Roman Hat Mystery (the first Ellery Queen novel)…
and then it hits you.
“Hey, that free textbook I ordered in 2010! It’s not here! What a rip! I am so bummed! No, you stupid Kindle, I don’t want to watch the Coconuts (one of the great Marx Brothers comedies) just because it’s free now! Synthesizing my favorite mocha-cocoa-instant health & exercise lattes is not going to do it! You failed me! Life is so unfair…”
I’m just kidding, of course…but my basic point is, why not order them? If you get it today, great. If it’s 2025, fine. If you don’t get it at all, oh well.
By the way, the 2025 statement was testable…I mention that since so many of these books are science. I ordered them all, and they all delivered just fine last night. It did take a while…these are big files. I had them sent to my Kindle for PC…I do that usually when it isn’t a book I want to read right away. I’d like it if I could specify a book should go right to the archives, but I suppose that makes it a bit harder for the licensing. In this case, though, I also figured that the computer would handle the downloads better than the Kindle.
You are perfectly welcome not to order a book because it might mistakenly say you won’t get it for fifteen years. There are plenty of options out there. For me, I think I might try listening to the Life Science book in the car…might be fun.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.