Background: I'm a final-year math student applying for faculty jobs at small schools in the US.
I'm currently designing a few courses, and this questions has been bothering me for some time now: Why can't I just assign an older edition of a text to students? It would be an edition I am more familiar with, plus it will be dramatically cheaper for them.
For example, consider David C. Lay's Linear Algebra and Its Applications. I used the 3rd edition as an undergraduate, but they're now on the 5th. I don't care about whatever software/codes/etc may or may not come with the text, so the only reasons I can think of are the following:
- It's presumably out of print, so maybe there won't be enough copies for students to easily get one? Unlikely with popular texts such as Lay's, but I could see it with a less common text.
- The university book store can't buy an older edition, so I am forced to use a newer one?
In any case, this all seems very unfair to students, especially when there's already so much discussion about the financial accessibility of higher education.