For my Development Economics class, I was faced with a choice of two textbook formats:
- $70 Online format
- $160 Standard print format
Logging into the ebook for the first time, I found that it allowed 180-day access only. If I had known this, I wouldn't have bought it in the first place. But, since I already had it, I decided not to go to the trouble to return it. I even thought that it might be interesting to learn about how e-books work.
- Trend 1: Path dependency. I was unwilling to reverse a bad decision once it was made, and rationalized my acceptance of the second-best situation as "a good idea too."
A month into the semester, I decided to go print out the rest of the book. I explained the situation to the student employee working at the library print desk, who suggested I try a lightly used printer that I hadn't used before. Although the printer only printed duplex manually, he said that very few people use it, so it should run smoothly. Being a friendly sort, he printed a few test pages and walked me through the process. He asked me how many pages my document had, and I said "between 200 and 300," judging from my memory of the hardcover copy in the bookstore. That seemed fine.
After logging in and accessing the book, I started to print. Another surprise! I could only print 10 pages at a time! This ruined the manual duplex idea, because I would have to:
- Press Print and wait for 5 pages to print
- Walk 5 steps to the printer and take 5 pages from the output tray and place them in an manual input tray
- Walk 5 steps to the computer and press "OK"
- Select the next 10 pages of the document and hit Print again.
- Quickly remove the completed 5 two-sided sheets to keep from re-inserting the wrong pages in the next step
- Trend 1: Path dependency. I should have changed course and gone back to the public auto-duplex printer. I would have to print in 10-page chunks anyways, which would allow other people to use the more public printer in between my many small print jobs.
- Trend 2: Hurrying. When I began to feel that I was losing too much time, my demand for a good quality product dropped across the board in an attempt to trade-off with time. Instead of cutting my losses and getting the duplex I wanted, I pushed ahead.
- Trends 1 & 2: Even though I actually realized after two minutes that I should switch to the auto-duplex printer, I somehow ignored my own reasoning through frustration and decided to keep printing single-sided.
This time I was so frustrated that I quit the whole deal and walked out. I didn't even use the library 3-hole punch, which is twice as fast as the one at home. Even though I was thinking, "I should use the hole-punch," the reasoning was overcome with an overriding "That sucked, I'm not spending any more time on this."
- Trend 1 vs. 2: As my haste overcame my path dependence, it continued to run roughshod over my well-reasoned preferences
At least it inspired this magnificent journal entry.
(Note: I'm not sure whether I should be especially concerned about the "killing trees" aspect because I have found that printer toner costs a lot more than the paper. If high cost usually correlates with worse environmental impact, I might reason that the environmental loss from switching from duplex to single-sided is small. But I'm not sure.)