The Debate About Book Availability Via Esri’s Desk Copy Service

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Many of those who are familiar with utilizing Esri’s products in an academic setting may also be familiar with their substantial list of available textbooks. Ones that educators may use to supplement and further enhance the courses that they teach.

Their catalogue encompasses both the grand scale and niche of utilizing GIS technology, many of which cover their software particularly – such as Lining Up Data in ArcGIS: A Guide to Map Projections, or the several editions of the Getting to Know ArcGIS® Desktop title. Instructors can file requests for copies of these textbooks, and reasonably so, as Esri and its software encompass the vast majority of GIS technology use in the academic, governmental, and corporate sectors, holding a substantial 40% of the global GIS market share in 2011.

When a request is filed and a book is obtained, educators may also use further book resourcesto add onto their courses, such as exercise chapters, additional slideshows, et cetera. But while these textbooks and their resources fall in line with the majority of GIS education, it’s worth noting that Esri has a selection of books that they do not provide for education purposes. Cartographer and educator @pokateo_brought attention to this issue with Kenneth Field’s newest book from Esri Press, Cartographya book that is said to display,“the intersection of science and art, this book serves as a guidepost for designing an accurate and effective map.”

Serving as a reference guide with a myriad of illustrations, and coming with the price tag of a traditional hardcover textbook, the publication is strangely absent for requests from Esri’s Desk Copy Service, and a reasonable inquiry was raised – why would that be the case?

Esri’s response to this inquiry was summed up with as a delineation between a “concept” and “instruction” book, seen in the following response:

This brings up an interesting question for the GIS community, particularly for educators. For a corporation that plays such an essential role in the GIS industry, would it not benefit students and their instructors to obtain this material, regardless of its definition as a concept or traditional instruction textbook? Are these books seen as non-essential by Esri, in comparison to their software-oriented books? It’s a topic worth discussing, exceedingly so with the continuing incorporation of digital maps and map creation as a visual, artistic medium.

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