The arguments against having a required textbook have often focused on the idea that none of the current textbooks covers the material that's being taught—especially in the large course. Our large (1300 students) course tended to emphasize human physiology from a biochemical perspective. Many of the lectures in the metabolism section involved specific case studies.
The large course is changing now that one of the lecturers has retired and it will no longer be so slanted toward human physiology. The summer version is being taught right now and it's clear that the lectures are more like those in traditional biochemistry courses. I was surprised to learn that the new course now has a required textbook, unlike all previous versions of the course for the past decade. I was even more surprised to learn that the required textbook was a specific Canadian version of the Garrett & Grisham textbook "Biochemistry" published by Brooks/Cole in the USA and by Nelson Education in Canada.1
The Canadian version adds three new authors. One of them is Stravroula ("Roula") Andreopolous, a Senior Lecturer in my department who runs the large introductory biochemistry courses. The others are William G. Willmore, a Professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, and Imed E. Gallouzi, a Professor at McGill University in Montreal.
Here's the description of the 1st Canadian Edition.
Biochemistry 1st Canadian edition guides students through course concepts in a way that reveals the beauty and usefulness of biochemistry in the everyday world from a unique Canadian context. Biochemistry is a living science that touches every aspect of our lives and this book ensures students are made aware of the significance and interdisciplinary nature of this subject; questions posed at the beginning of each chapter and new “Why it Matters” boxes grab interest and tap into students inner ‘scientist’ answering why and how topics are relevant and important, “Human Biochemistry” features highlight how biochemistry affects our bodies, as well as “Critical Developments” sections focus on various types of drug design. Highlighting the most current research topics such as mRNA turnover and microRNA, as well as Canadian researchers and institutions, the 1st Canadian edition of Biochemistry will help students master the concepts of biochemistry and gain new insight into this dynamic science.I'm not sure what I think of this idea. The standard textbooks, including my own, have a slight American bias but they are mostly written for students from all over the world. I've never heard complaints from Canadian students who use my book. To me, it sounds a bit parochial to make a special Canadian edition just so Canadian researchers can be highlighted. I find it a bit embarrassing.
What do you think? Is it a good thing to print biochemistry textbooks for specific markets? Should there be one for Texas and a different one for Massachusetts? Should there be an Australian and a Scottish version to draw attention to scientists in Australia and Scotland?
1. This is not usally thought of as one of the better biochemistry textbooks but I'm a bit biased.