Question: When is a textbook not a textbook? Answer: When it has been produced without care and attention to fact checking, verification and not to the standards that the education community expects.
It’s a problem that has been steadily increasing too. With so many unreliable materials being released into circulation, the counterfeit textbooks phenomenon has hit the industry hard. Poor quality materials from the counterfeiters has meant that publishers are losing money – money that would have been used to invest in producing new materials, platforms and books. It’s a double whammy and in both cases, it is the students who are losing out.
But help is at hand. Anti-counterfeiting measures have been championed by print and digital specialist Ingram and learning platform provider Chegg. And they have in turn, been joined by some major producers and publishers of educational materials: Cengage, McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson. Together they have produced the Anti-Counterfeit Best Practices, a series of steps to stop the sale and distribution of fake textbooks in their tracks.
The practical steps include: How to identify counterfeit textbooks to avoid purchase, how to identify them in your collection and what to do if you find you have one/many. The best practice steps also suggest verifying suppliers and legitimate sources to follow the trail further back than the purchase point. If a distributor finds counterfeit books in their inventory, for example, they are encouraged to share supplier information to help stop the culprits (and recover their own reputation). In this way, the industry hopes to build a wider picture of not only the producers of the counterfeits but also those who are knowingly selling and distributing. In addition, publishers will continue to pursue legal action against individuals and companies involved in every element of the counterfeiting chain.
It is a wise move to include the entire community and by ‘educating’ everyone on how to spot a fake, they are working on Sir Francis Bacon’s principle that knowledge is power.
Pearson’s president of global product Tim Bozik comments: “The theft of intellectual property ultimately shortchanges students and faculty,” By joining forces to prevent that, everyone benefits. Cengage CEO, Michael Hansen agrees: “Pirates enrich themselves at the expense of students, authors, our employees and shareholders. We will not rest until the market has been cleansed of all illegal materials.” McGraw-Hill Education CEO, David Levin also noted that taking back control from the counterfeiters was an act of strength, renewing the print and digital streams and “Incentivizing the development of new educational materials.”
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