Toronto students have to buy art textbook with no art

OCAD University students spent $180 on a textbook that only has references for where to see pictures online

When learning about art, one may think it's a good idea to see pictures, but students in a class at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto will have to look elsewhere to actually see the images a book is talking about.

Students had to purchase the newest edition of a textbook for $180, but because the publisher couldn't get copyright permissions, students have to go online to see the images.

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"The textbook for Global VISUAL and Material Culture has no pictures," writes Brent Ashley on his blog. His daughter started at OCAD University this fall. "There is no discount on the $180 price for an ART textbook that has NO PICTURES. Devoid of pictures. Bereft of art. If I am going to have to pay $180 for an art history book that is of no resale value to next year's students, it had damn well better be an excellent visual reference with hard cover and full colour plates, to keep around for years, festooning my coffee table and that of my heirs."

The Dean responded with a letter to students that reads, "You have also been given access to electronic versions of the full Stokstad/Cothren and Drucker/McVarish texts with all the images. The book is complete as printed and is not missing pictures because we didn't get copyright clearance in time. If we had opted for print clearance of all the Stokstad and Drucker images, the text would have cost over $800."

The school thought it would be an acceptable alternative because the students are e-savvy.

Further, OCAD's Dean of Liberal Studies, Kathy Shailer, told Open File it is an OCAD-made custom text that was discussing different works of art, including Canadian and aboriginal pieces. It was produced on a relatively small run.

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Ashley isn't alone in his disdain. Someone started a petition and so far more than 400 people have signed it.

"The creation of this textbook is a waste of our money and should not have been printed until copyright permission was acquired," reads the petition. The students are demanding one of three options. They want either a full refund, to learn from the old textbooks or to have everything put online and be able to purchase it for a discounted price.

While OCAD hasn't changed anything yet, they have scheduled a town hall meeting to be hosted by the dean Thursday to discuss the issue.

As for Ashley, all he is hoping for is value.