Designing a Better Inside Cover for Textbooks

Funny IdeaIf you get your textbooks from your school library, you know that on the inside front cover, there is a box that will define your life.

In this box are a few pieces of information. First, there is a spot for the names of the students to whom the textbook has been checked out to.

As an incredibly judgmental teen, you’ve already flipped to this part and analyzed each and every name. Do you know any of these other people who once touched the textbook? Was this the textbook of anyone famous? Uggh, you just hate how Martha Robinson dotted her “i” with a pink-highlighter heart. Yuck, now your book has cooties.

Hopefully, you’ve also added your name to the list to prevent your textbook from being taken, stolen, ransomed, kidnapped, abducted, or otherwise victimized by other students. This is very, very important, because if you lose your textbook, a number of terrible things occur.

If you lose your textbook, you’ll get stuck with a fine. Now, this isn’t just any fine. Your textbook with it’s rounded, worn down corners, peeling cover, written-on pages, and duct-taped spine is somehow worth, according to the school, $10,000,000. You will never be able to afford a fine like that, meaning you’ll always have unpaid fines, meaning you never graduate. And if you don’t graduate, it’s going to be really hard getting a job that pays enough for you to pay off that fine in your lifetime.

Also in the front cover is a chart for the condition of the textbook when it was issued, and another box for the condition of it when it was returned. There are a number of flaws with this system as well.

To begin with, the students are allowed to fill this section out. Who’s going to stop you from writing that you received and returned the textbook in good condition? Or, better yet, why not make yourself look like a kindhearted super-talented philanthropist? Write that the book was issued in “bad” condition, but was returned “new.”

Finally, the inside front cover is otherwise useless. You’ve got a name, a condition, and a lot of other junk that isn’t necessary. I mean, your school? What do these textbook companies think is going to happen? Are you going to leave your book in a classroom, at your assigned seat, with your name it the front cover, only to have your teacher think, “Hmm, I’ve found a textbook with the name ‘John Swanson’ in John Swanson’s assigned seat, immediately after I had John Swanson in class. I bet it’s the John Swanson at the school in a neighboring state, though—oh wait, thank god they stamped the school name inside the cover; this is clearly a textbook from this school”?

Prevent Theft

The name inside the textbook won’t stop a motivated thief. And the possibility of a $10,000,000 fine can turn even the most innocent and meek students into conniving criminals.

What we really need is a fail-proof system. This basically leaves you two options. The first is attaching a low-budget GPS or location device to the front cover, like a homing pigeon. This way, you will always know where the textbook is.

However, GPS devices can be shorted out and removed, and pigeons can be distracted, disoriented, or caged. Thus, this option is not 100% guaranteed.

A better idea would be to physically attach yourself to the textbooks that you will need that day. At first this sounds appalling, until you realize that we already carry our textbooks pressed against our back for a majority of the time.

So, simply attach a thick steel cable to the inside front cover of each textbook, with the other end being attached to an iron shackle around your rib cage. Sure, it might warp your torso, but no more or less than your backpack’s weight already does. I mean, if you’re going to be paying a chiropractor later in life you might as well avoid the million-dollar fines now.

Contain Useful Information

What if, instead of useless administrative stamps and info, the textbook covers contained useful information? It’s an earth-shattering idea, I know, but maybe society should start getting used to the fact that textbooks ought to contain some valuable information somewhere between those covers.

Now, I’m not talking about educational material. Nobody needs more vocab words or author bio pages. What people really need is advice.

For example, what if the inside cover was a running log of advice for the class the textbook is used in? So, if you’d just taken a hard test, you might write: “Chapter 3-4 test is brutal. Know the theorems. 3 people passed out during that test and somebody else’s brain exploded.” Clearly, you’d know to prepare for that test, as well as possibly bring in a bomb squad for your brain.

Honestly, I can’t see why we haven’t already implemented these ideas as students, aside from the fact that we have no voice in the textbook companies, can’t vote, can’t drive at night between 12 and 5 AM, don’t care too much, are too tired, and have generally stupid ideas, like using a plastic spoon as a catapult for small vegetables during lunch.

Regardless, I know what I’m going to do the next time I’m bored and find myself with my textbook. I’m going to flip to the front cover and look at the names, wondering why “Mitchell Hamstein” decided to write his name in both blue gel pen and pencil.

If you’ve been having some trouble reading the small print in your textbooks lately, then maybe you need to see an eye doctor. Or, maybe you just want even more High School Humor Blog goodness. Either way, you should read, “Torturous Eye Doctor Examinations,” published here last year.

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  1. Great post, as usual XD

    Hey, where’s Ted? Haven’t heard from him for the past couple…years?

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