Making textbooks shorter

I laughed at Alex’s recent post, which cited California legislation to limit textbooks to  200 pages.  But I now see the wisdom of our advanced cousins to the west.  Yana brought home her Advanced Placement textbooks the other day; the 1200-page plus Biology text weighs about four pounds; the others are only slightly less.  (Alex’s kids are younger, and need not cope with such monstrosities.)

The problem is carrying these books to and from school, not to mention the externalities imposed on parents who must give rides.  I am not sure I could manage to bring five texts to the school bus stop.  (NB: Carl Menger predicted these texts will not evolve into a common medium of exchange.)  The solution, of course, is to split the text into smaller parts, noting that the California legislation mandates greater use of web-based materials.

Note that a textbook supplier with some monopoly power can increase profits by bundling everything into one package.  So there is a motive for producers to make textbooks larger than is socially optimal.  Hoorah California, once again.


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