A textbook crime

A textbook crime

A crisp breeze combs through the expanse of the wheat fields that collar the Washington State University campus; a low but steadily-increasing rumble is the only indication of the impending chaos.

The wild WSU students are returning to their natural habitat.

Soon, this peaceful landscape will be spliced by a seemingly-endless caravan of cars pouring in from every direction (each string led by one inevitably sluggish and yet incredibly oblivious vehicle) as the creatures migrate back to their home.

It is the dawn of a new semester, a fresh chance to get those good grades and actually attend 8 a.m. classes. Sixteen whole weeks stretch ahead before the students must again consider the stress of finals.

But unfortunately for these students, there is more to look forward to than simply the reinstatement of their social groups and re-establishment of alcohol tolerances.

There is the looming financial threat, one that plagues these individuals every year around the migration time.

In addition to the new tuition check, the students find themselves responsible for a wealth of additional expenses around this time, including but not limited to leases, textbooks, and holiday gifts for friends that you totally said you already bought but forgot about entirely.  

In specific, the cost of college textbooks is an area of significant financial burden and subsequently increasing temptation that can only be described as criminal.

A rising number of students report abandoning conventional means of textbook acquisition in lieu of far more unorthodox and far less legal methods.

Many students with half a handle on the workings of the internet (fairly common in a population that managed to find their way into a four year university) are finding that they are able to not only find the occasional access code online, but additionally can often attain via “torrenting” the entire textbook itself.

Torrenting is one of the main forms of online piracy, which apparently, according to previews on every DVD ever, is not a victimless crime. However, when facing book expenses oftentimes upward of $500, it is understandable that students are tempted to cheat on more than just New Year’s resolutions.

As each semester passes and students realize how many times one never ends up opening a $76 economics text (past the plastic to get to the access code) the case for more illegitimate means of obtaining texts grows stronger.

So I suppose the question is less why would students torrent, and instead why wouldn’t they?

Beyond simply ethical and legal qualms, some degree of knowledge is required to steal an entire textbook. Despite the existence of specific sites, it does take a moderate amount of cyber-savvy abilities to manage to download something that is pertinent to your class, not just a wealth of viruses.

Which brings up another issue that is associated with this form of digital debauchery: the threat of viruses. Third-party sites that provide as lucrative a product as free textbooks are likely also offering an awkward two to three hours at CougTech while trying to avoid telling them exactly what completely and totally legal thing you were doing when your computer suddenly became non-responsive.

In the end, the decision of whether to obtain your texts through the clean and certifiably virus-free Bookie or the sketchier yet you-literally-don’t-have-to-pay-anything kind of free online approach is understandably tempting, but in the end still very much illegal.

Remember, petty theft is most likely not among the top college achievements that you intend to brag to your grandchildren about.

While we absolutely do not in any way condone the illegal act of online piracy, it can be horribly frustrating to spend money on a book that turns out to be optional or that you never use. However, a better solution for this issue can be to hold off on book-buying until you know for sure what is needed or talk to your teacher directly about what will be used, as opposed to resorting to criminal acts.