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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Undergraduate course offers free textbook

Undergraduate class Music 10 (MUS 10) is offering course readings, including an e-book, for free via SmartSite.

Readings for the music appreciation course were previously offered in textbook form and are now available electronically through SmartSite for students enrolled in the class.

“I was never in it for the money to begin with; everything has gone wrong for the undergraduates financially,” said D. Kern Holoman, professor of music and author of the Music 10 textbook. “This is something I could do that is a win-win for everybody. It can teach me as an author what an e-book is and how it works.”

The e-book is printable for students who want to bring sections of the text to class. There is also a lending library for those who want to have a physical text in hand, Holoman said.

The box set for Music 10, which includes the text, three CDs and a CD-ROM, costs around $75. The “compact edition,” which includes the text and a CD, costs around $35, Holoman said.

This is not the first time that Music 10 offered an e-book in replacement of the textbook. The e-book debuted Fall 2010.

“Many people have observed that there are a lot of e-books out there and not a lot of e-textbooks out there. I think the fairer priced textbook companies and music companies can make their materials, then more students will want to take the courses,” said Philip Daley, events and publicity manager for the music department.  “I think it is a move in the right direction and hope it continues that way.”

The cost of textbooks in relation to tuition increases has been a burning issue for students and faculty, Holoman said.

In the 2011-12 academic year, California resident undergraduate tuition was expected to cost $15,123.36. For non-California residents, undergraduate tuition was projected at $38,001.36, according to a UC Davis “facts and figures” sheet.

This does not include the price of textbooks.

“I would like to see a world where the basic factual content that you learn as an undergraduate is already available. The material that reaches the students through the college professor should be available at a very fair price,” Holoman said.

Music 10 will continue to teach the course with the e-book format in Spring 2012, Holoman said.

“In the music department, where students have to pay for lessons, we have a lot of double majors, and oftentimes their textbooks expenses are in the hundreds of dollars. The music students that I have talked to are very grateful for having a free option. Overall, it has been positive,” Daley said.

In a time where students can use websites such as Amazon.com or Slugbooks.com instead of college bookstores to find lower prices on textbooks, the e-book offers a new perspective on how students can obtain course material.

“This is part of a much bigger package of what it means to be a college student and how that is changing,” Holoman said.

ALICIA KINDRED can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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