Remember the Time: That Publisher Put a Pornstar on a Math Text Book

Yes, this really happened! In 2014, a Thai textbook publisher used what they probably assumed to be stock photography of a teacher on the cover of a math book.


To their defense: The designer, probably a lowest-bid contractor, likely Googled and went with the first suitable image they found. What they found was a shot of Japanese porn star Mana Aoki, in a still from the movie “Costume Play Working Girl,” where she starts out looking conservative enough as a nerdy math teacher with a textbook open, but – as one could well imagine – eventually gives her students a good reason to be hot for teacher!

When social media caught wind of the cover art, the story went viral and the red-faced publisher (probably secretly chuckling at the free publicity) replaced the image with properly-vetted stock photography rather than an Asian porn star. Everybody had a good laugh at it and moved on.

If this seems like an odd story, this kind of thing actually happens so often there could actually be a blog for it. Textbooks traditionally have the lowest production budgets of any publishing industry; it’s pure raw profit. When’s the last time you even cared what the cover art on your textbook looked like? Considering some textbooks cost a serious chunk of cash by the time you get to American colleges, it would be within justification to demand porn stars all the way through. That would certainly liven up those calculus problems!

In any case, this likely isn’t the first time this has happened and certainly isn’t the first time careless re-use of art appeared on a school textbook. Stock photos, Internet memes, and even art stolen from everything from comic books to open source software logos have all been discovered printed on textbook covers. Sometimes it’s even done on purpose. Using a meme you found on social media is one way to connect with the students.

Honestly, we’d just as soon learn our math from Mana Aoki. She looks like she’d know a thing or two about how to multiply!