Textbook example of wasted resources

10:08, August 20, 2010      

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  At the beginning of new semesters, printing shops on campus always see their business boom. Tens of thousands of college students would bring textbooks to photocopy as purchasing them is voluntary, so many students choose to simply copy to save cash.

  Su Qiang, a communications and engineering senior at Minzu University of China, told the Global Times that when he was a freshman, the policy on voluntary purchase was unclear and nearly all his classmates ordered the required books.

  In the second year, photocopying became the norm, and nearly 15 percent of his "books" were copied in printing shops.

  Practical behavior

  Zhang, a junior at Henan University, said he gets a cheap price at the copy shop.

  "It only costs about 18 yuan ($2.6) to copy a book worth 35 yuan - nearly half price," he said.

  Zhang said that last semester, only four of the 53 students in his class ordered all the textbooks while others chose to photocopy.

  "And we only copy those we really need. Most textbooks for the elective classes we can go without," said Zhang.

  Thinking of textbooks as having no use is a major reason most students' resist spending their money. Being frugal is a widespread art on campus.

  "The university teachers are very different from high school teachers, in that they usually have their own style and method of delivering classes, which are so good that you can learn what you need without ever looking at the books," said Fu Ning, an automation major at Central China Agricultural University.

  Fu said that many students regard passing exams as the only aim and purpose of studying, and think teachers' lectures, and the notes they can take from them, are way more valuable than textbooks in helping them pass exams.

  "Textbooks have no use after exams, so it is more economical for us to photocopy," he said.


  Gou Ruilong, a professor at Zhengzhou University, said that the importance of textbooks should not be underestimated.

  "The textbooks on one side regulate teachers' teaching scope, and on the other, are helpful for students to review and strengthen their knowledge," Gou told the Global Times.

  "Only taking notes in classes cannot provide a proper background for students to digest what they need to learn," Gou said.

  A staff member with the copyright department of the Press and Publication Bureau in Yunnan Province said that the copyright law only allows small amounts of photocopying of textbooks with the precondition that it is, "for the use of scientific study by teachers and students."

  "If textbooks are photocopied wholly, it is an illegal act of copyright infringement, and should not be encouraged," he said.

  Possible solutions

  A business administration junior surnamed Li, who is studying at the Renmin University of China, said that neither buying nor photocopying is good for the environment, considering the waste of paper.

  He suggests that students buy second-hand books from senior or former students or from bookshops at their universities.

  "Sometimes, the second-hand books available in the bookshops are cheaper than photocopying," he said.

  Zheng Ruolin, a professor at Xiamen University, told the Global Times that at her university, professors give a list of recommended textbooks for students to go and borrow from the school library.

  "Recycling textbooks should be a mainstream habit in a society that is attaching more and more importance to environmental protection," she said.

  "In the future, we should try to make textbooks more durable, to ensure the possibility they can be recycled," she added.

Source: Global Times


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