An interview with a textbook publishing baron

Baron Cardiff of Pearson, formal owner of the Pearson Canada textbook company is currently thought to command a GDP of $305.2 million, or in layman’s terms, Gabon. Amassing his fortune through the textbook trade that his family has owned for the past century, Baron Cardiff prefers to enjoy his fortune in private, having gone into reclusion. Through its extensive media connections, The Peak managed to secure a rare interview with the baron.

Gary: First of all, Mr. Cardiff, I’d like to thank you on behalf of The Peak and students at SFU for finding the time to speak with us. You’re not exactly the easiest man to track down.

Baron: Thank you.

G: That part . . . wasn’t a compliment.  In addition to that, where exactly are we? The men who I only assume are working for you had me blindfolded for a good half hour before I ended up here.

B: We’re aboard The Prestige, my own private land-yacht.

G: Land . . . yacht.

B: Yes. The finest method of transportation one can take when crossing God’s green earth.

G: Anyways Mr. Cardiff, you’re an accomplished man, I see here, that your company has recently published it’s 13th editions of Introduction to Calculus, Basic Communications, and College Physics, not to mention your recent accolades in the fields of sailing, riding, what is this, house-owning?

B: Yes, rather good isn’t it.

G: Let’s cut to it Mr. Cardiff, the question on everyone’s mind: why are textbooks so expensive? The average student understands that with large-scale publishing there will inevitable be costs associated with labour, equipment and transport, but on the other hand, $250 for a hardcover textbook? Fuck you.

B: Well, updates to our textbooks are entirely necessary. In this modern age of telecoms and Twitterspheres, information travels at break-neck velocities. What is relevant now, may be totally irrelevant, several hours hereafter.

G: Granted, but with the cost of living on the rise, students are turning to alternative means for their learning materials. Craigslist, book exchanges, textbook renting, even illegal torrenting.

B:I will give you $50 if you never mention any of those things ever again.

G: You’ve got to be kidding; the average university student completes their bachelor’s with over 20 grand in student loans.

B: I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with this word “loan.”

G: You’re joking. A loan? Borrowing money, and later repaying it.  This is a concept that you’re not familiar with.

B: Oh, how amusing, borrowing money. Next you’ll be telling me of your great air exchanging venture, or reusing clothes after wearing. The humour pages, indeed. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to make the final arrangement on an island in the South Pacific that I’ll be purchasing for the wife.

G: Oh, which one?

B: I’m sorry if I’m butchering the pronunciation, but I do believe the locals calls it ‘Ahstraulia?

G: Australia?

B: Yes, that’s the one. She does love those kangaroos.  Anyhoo, you must rather go now.

And with a snap of his perfectly manicured fingers, I found myself ejected off of the land-yacht with nary more than a “what about the 50 buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks” echoing in the wind.