Kalamazoo College's Student Newspaper
By Emily Pizza Contributor
I’m a freshman and by no means a wealthy one. I eat all of my meals in the cafeteria (except for my breakfast of stale Cheerios), and all of my entertainment comes from free events like Zoo Flicks. So when I realized that I had $150 worth of textbooks to buy this quarter, I was pretty mad; there was no way I was paying that much for big stacks of paper with pretty pictures and big words on them.
My determination to not go broke motivated me to begin the quest to find the cheapest textbooks, and .22 seconds later Google pulled up 415 million results for free textbooks. I clicked on the first link, which told me that it would pair me up with an illegally uploaded PDF file of my textbook.
“Is this real life, or is this fantasy?” I asked myself. To my great surprise, it was real. I found both my chemistry and biology textbooks there, graphics and all. I was then faced with a tough decision: to download or not to download.
I chose the latter, mostly because the books from Amazon are not that expensive anyway. But this did cause me to question whether downloading free textbooks from peer-to-peer file sharing websites should be illegal, and in my opinion it should not.
Critics claim that downloading illegal, free PDF textbooks means the textbook company is not getting any money. They believe that the companies will have to raise the prices on their products, which will make everything worse for students in the long run.
This is true: companies don’t get any money when a book is illegally downloaded, but that shouldn’t make it illegal. Why? Well, downloading an illegal PDF is exactly the same as buying a used book off of Amazon or even from the bookstore — the publisher, the author, the editors and the designers do not get any of the cut.
So what does this mean? Is it illegal to buy books off of Amazon?
No. Once the book is in the buyer’s hands, it is their property. They can do with it as they please.
One problem remains: downloading an illegal PDF is definitely immoral.
As a student, you have a moral obligation to pay for your books, so I would still suggest staying away from illegal PDF downloads and sticking with the cheap, used books.
Why? Because at least then you’re doing the moral thing and helping someone out, whether it be a broke college student like yourself trying to scrounge together a few dollars or a bookstore just trying to compete with the constantly dropping prices of its competitors.What goes around comes around; buy your textbooks and it will pay off when Karma comes full circle.