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If College were free, would textbooks cost more?

Free college. The idea is whispered like an incantation in student government meetings and dorm rooms across the country. An education without crippling debt. Surely a pipe dream, but a beautiful one none the less, right?

Several states in the US have begun to offer free or heavily discounted Community College, though 4 year universities still charge tens of thousands of dollars per semester. If, oh glorious thought, a 4 year degree were to be offered free of charge, what would it do to textbook costs?

Is Free College a Pipe Dream?

Continue reading “If College were free, would textbooks cost more?”

As you may have heard, the Oxford English Dictionary made this emoji the word of the year.

emoji of the year Continue reading “The Oxford English Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” isn’t going to replace language”

Bookbyte Local: Why Oregon Students Have the Best of Both Worlds

If you are an Oregon resident (or at least are a student in Oregon), we have great news for you. If you want to avoid shipping costs for your online textbook orders, you have two ways to do so. You can either order more than $49 in textbooks and receive free shipping (just like everybody else), or you can take a short trip to Bookbyte in Salem, Oregon. Our warehouse has over 30,000 textbooks in it just waiting for plucky students to walk in and buy them, tax and shipping free.


Continue reading “Bookbyte Local: Why Oregon Students Have the Best of Both Worlds”

Why Textbooks are Actually Bargains

Why Textbooks Are Actually BargainsThe following was written by our own Ben Zoon, a talented Bookbyte employee and avid reader.

Ah, the start of the term, when countless shiny new textbooks are traded to college students in exchange for an arm and a leg. Meanwhile, last term’s books are being sold back for what seems like pennies on the dollar (unless you’re selling back to Bookbyte). It’s amazing how frequently textbooks get “updated” to new editions and seem to depreciate overnight. What then happens to all the old editions? They magically transform into some of the greatest bargains of our time!

Many modern college textbooks, especially the popular ones, are true works of art when you think about it. They’re overflowing with helpful pictures, diagrams, and charts. The text is written by some of the brightest educators in the country, whose passion truly shows through in their work. While I did my assigned reading in college, I would often find myself leafing forward a few chapters and marveling at the sheer quantity of blood, sweat, and tears that must have gone into producing it all.

Continue reading “Why Textbooks are Actually Bargains”

Gender & Books: Who Are You Reading?

girl reading book

Goodreads recently asked the question: What do men and women read when it comes to books?

What is Goodreads, you ask? is a website for users to track, rate, and review the books they read. Users can participate in book club discussions, follow their friends, create “To-Read” book lists, and read reviews from other users. Goodreads took the top stats of 40,000 of their most active readers to see what the sexes are reading. Here’s their collected information in a cool infographic:

Continue reading “Gender & Books: Who Are You Reading?”

Was the Facebook Mood Manipulation Experiment Worth It?

Receiving some bad news

In terms of recent news that generated outrage, few stories in the past month can compete with the Facebook “Mood Manipulation” Experiment. If the story escaped your notice, here’s the basics: A study conducted by Facebook’s data team filtered 689,003 users’ News Feeds for positive or negative keywords. The test was to see what impact this had on the users’ subsequent posts. Needless to say, users with only positive Feeds were more likely to say something positive. Negative Feeds led to more negative posts.

Continue reading “Was the Facebook Mood Manipulation Experiment Worth It?”

High School Cancels Summer Reading Over ‘Controversial’ YA Book

lilbrother_doctorowUntil recently, a Florida high school had a summer reading program that had everyone in the school, regardless of grade level, reading the same book. However, the school’s administration canned the program over the content of this year’s book, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.

The reasoning is a bit odd. The school, or at least, the librarians and English teachers responsible for actually reading the book and writing discussion materials for the students, vetted it and found nothing inappropriate about it. The plug was pulled at the last minute by the school’s principal, who’s reasoning seems to be primarily based on online reviews. Those reviews mentioned that the book had a “positive view of questioning authority” and “lauding hacker culture.” The principal also said that he had received parent complaints about profanity, though the author insists the only profanity is one indirect reference.

(Even if the book was foul-mouthed, let’s all just admit that shielding 14- to 18-year-olds from naughty words is a losing battle. Personally, those were my peak cursing years.)

Continue reading “High School Cancels Summer Reading Over ‘Controversial’ YA Book”

Trying to Turn English, Reading, & Literature Into a Numbers Game

readingbabyThere’s a problem that always seems to be at the root of the debate over education policy: When do we standardize and when do we personalize? If we don’t standardize enough, there’s no guarantee that everyone will receive the same opportunities and the same basic education. If we don’t personalize enough, we can ignore some really basic common sense in the interest of keeping everything “equal.” This post is about the second problem.

The institution of the Common Core Standards in most states tries to find measurable ways to ensure schools are meeting their state standards. For math, that’s not too hard. You just set the grade you should know your multiplication tables and the grade you should tackle geometry. For reading, things get trickier. That’s where the Lexile system comes into place. Continue reading “Trying to Turn English, Reading, & Literature Into a Numbers Game”

North Carolina County Celebrates Banned Book Week By Banning Invisible Man

Book banning always struck me as a special kind of terrible. Not necessarily because of direct harm done — a student forbidden from reading, say Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is not a different end result than just not having that book on the syllabus — but because of the principle. There’s no greater insult to the very idea of education and to the discerning capabilities of young minds than to say, “You students can’t handle this book. You need to be protected from it.” Continue reading “North Carolina County Celebrates Banned Book Week By Banning Invisible Man

Five Books We Want To See As Movies

oryx-and-crakeOryx and Crake — Margaret Atwood

The premise: In a post-apocalyptic world, one of the only remaining survivors reflects on how his best friend brought about the end of civilization.

Why film it? Look at The Hunger Games. Dystopian sci-fi is in. Look at The Walking Dead. Apocalyptic sci-fi is also in. With Oryx & Crake, you get it both ways: a frighteningly believable and self-destructive future society and a planet after a disaster rapidly being reclaimed by animal and plant life. Plus, while the book can stand on its own just fine, there is a sequel (The Year of the Flood) and a third book due out later this year. And movie studios love franchises.

Who’d make it? It would be great if somebody like Terry Gilliam could make it. Despite the bleak material, the books are pretty funny at times and it would need a director who would be comfortable with some of the more unhinged parts. But there’s no chance a studio looking to make a franchise would let someone that out of control near it, so my guess would be Alfonso Cuaron, who brought a lot of visual flair to another more down-to-earth sci-fi movie, Children of Men.

What are the odds it’ll happen? 5/10 — There’s a chance nobody wants to touch this series until they see how it wraps up when the last book comes out this year. There’s just as good of a chance that nobody wants to touch this series at all since the last film adaptation of a Margaret Atwood book, The Handmaid’s Tale, was pretty poorly received.

Continue reading “Five Books We Want To See As Movies”

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