Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

This is why economists, and especially Harvard economists, have such a poor reputation. Arguing against the New York Times, Greg Mankiw maintaines that high textbook prices are justified because, if prices are too high, a competitor (like, say, the New York Times) could enter the market and undercut prices. Well, of course, this is happening, with free and open content textbooks, because prices are too high. But what we are finding, as Economic Logic observes, is that the textbook market is not an open market. It is "remarkably difficult for a new publisher to enter the market" and existing prices "really looks like (open or tacit) collusion among publishers." Even more to the point, though, is his presumption that textbooks must be published by a profit-driven publishing company. If, say, textbooks were deemed a public good, and offered by the government at substantially lower cost, why would this not be the most viable option? Via Fred M Beshears, by email.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 5:08 p.m.