Many years ago I developed an interest in machining so I could tackle projects that demand capability beyond pliers and a Dremel tool. I found evening classes offered by Lake Washington Institute of Technology (formerly Lake Washington Technical College). The campus is only a short drive from where I lived at the time. I enrolled in the Machining Technology program on the theory I could learn by attending classes on my way home after work.
In reality I only managed two quarters of classes before my full-time job demands picked up so much I could no longer keep up the night classes. Since I’m unlikely to stock my own home workshop with industrial-level machine tools, I wrote the whole thing off as a self-enrichment learning exercise with no practical application. Or I almost did, because I kept my textbooks on the chance I would need them again.
That was a good thing, because another opportunity has now presented itself. There are a few machine tools at Tux Lab which gives me motivation. If I can get myself up to speed again and prove I’m not likely to break the machines, I might be able to return to those ideas that needed more than a Dremel tool. (And in the years since, I would add “… or a 3D printer.”)
So I dusted off my many-years-old textbook and started reviewing the fundamentals because I believed the fundamentals of machining has not changed. Computer software has evolved tremendously in this time but metal is metal. Still, I was curious about the current status of the book so I looked it up on Amazon.com. My textbook is Machining and CNC Technology (First Edition) by Michael Fitzpatrick. It’s currently going for about $20, which I’m sure is far less than what I had paid.
According to Amazon, a second edition (~$40) has come and gone and we’re now on the third edition. And because it is the latest and specified by college instructors, the price is over $200. Ten times the first edition, and five times the second edition. Ouch!
Even in the age of Amazon, the college textbook market is still very distorted.