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Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:44 PM

Have textbooks always been such a ripoff?

I'm just curious about this so I thought I'd pose the question to older DUers. Have college text books always been a scam? I was just forced to buy a new copy of my German textbook for a 145$ dollars. The worst part was it was one of those looseleaf books so it I had to buy a folder to put it together myself. I was rather annoyed, especially considering there is literary no different between it and my older book aside from the fact that the old book was actually bound together. So, aside from using this post as an excuse to rant I thought I'd ask, have textbooks always been a total scam or is this a recent addition in ways the rich are trying to screw people over for seeking an education?

71 replies, 3181 views

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Arrow 71 replies Author Time Post
Reply Have textbooks always been such a ripoff? (Original post)
white_wolf Jan 2013 OP
ScreamingMeemie Jan 2013 #1
sadbear Jan 2013 #2
white_wolf Jan 2013 #4
Incitatus Jan 2013 #71
Bozita Jan 2013 #62
HappyMe Jan 2013 #3
JaneyVee Jan 2013 #5
Ed Suspicious Jan 2013 #6
Confusious Jan 2013 #33
Richardo Jan 2013 #7
Hayabusa Jan 2013 #67
Kalidurga Jan 2013 #8
BlueJazz Jan 2013 #9
RKP5637 Jan 2013 #10
jberryhill Jan 2013 #11
Poiuyt Jan 2013 #12
MadrasT Jan 2013 #13
baldguy Jan 2013 #14
librabear Jan 2013 #15
deucemagnet Jan 2013 #16
white_wolf Jan 2013 #24
prairierose Jan 2013 #17
DirkGently Jan 2013 #18
liberalhistorian Jan 2013 #19
Earth_First Jan 2013 #20
Earth_First Jan 2013 #21
Brigid Jan 2013 #22
FirstLight Jan 2013 #23
Confusious Jan 2013 #30
MannyGoldstein Jan 2013 #36
demosincebirth Jan 2013 #25
MichiganVote Jan 2013 #26
Cane4Dems Jan 2013 #27
MannyGoldstein Jan 2013 #41
Cane4Dems Jan 2013 #68
MannyGoldstein Jan 2013 #69
Cane4Dems Jan 2013 #70
alcibiades_mystery Jan 2013 #28
duffyduff Jan 2013 #53
JVS Jan 2013 #61
alcibiades_mystery Jan 2013 #63
PDittie Jan 2013 #29
Confusious Jan 2013 #31
cilla4progress Jan 2013 #32
white_wolf Jan 2013 #34
cilla4progress Jan 2013 #38
Leslie Valley Jan 2013 #35
earthside Jan 2013 #37
MADem Jan 2013 #39
unblock Jan 2013 #40
applegrove Jan 2013 #42
white_wolf Jan 2013 #46
applegrove Jan 2013 #47
rhett o rick Jan 2013 #43
MannyGoldstein Jan 2013 #44
dionysus Jan 2013 #45
the devil Jan 2013 #48
nadinbrzezinski Jan 2013 #49
VenusRising Jan 2013 #50
white_wolf Jan 2013 #51
VenusRising Jan 2013 #54
duffyduff Jan 2013 #52
haele Jan 2013 #55
Orrex Jan 2013 #56
wtmusic Jan 2013 #57
hughee99 Jan 2013 #58
JVS Jan 2013 #59
madrchsod Jan 2013 #60
bemildred Jan 2013 #64
JustABozoOnThisBus Jan 2013 #65
LWolf Jan 2013 #66

Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:46 PM

1. Yes. In 1988, I paid $110 for an English Lit book...

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:47 PM

2. Just wait till you sell it back.

And then they re-sell it next semester.

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Response to sadbear (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:50 PM

4. Yeah I paid over a 100$ for a book once and got 5$ back.

I kept it. I'll probably just give it to someone taking the class next semester. I'd rather save someone 120$ than make 5$.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #4)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 08:52 PM

71. Have you tried half.com or swapbooks.com?

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Response to sadbear (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 02:32 AM

62. In HS a looong time ago, I bought and sold used textbooks

It was a private Jesuit prep school. Lists of required books and their costs had already been sent to the students' homes. A few days before the start of classes, the school would sell those texts. The school did not deal with previously owned books.

In my freshman year, I bought them all from the school. List price.

Next year, I used my book money to buy used books from upperclass men on the cheap and used the remainder of my money to acquire and sell more of the same. The profit margin was like something out of a dream. I made something like $50. That was big money back in the late '50s.

I repeated the process in my junior year.

I had a viable business model.

And I never thought more about expanding on it. Foolish me!




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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:49 PM

3. Business Law book

in 1978 was around $150.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:50 PM

5. I paid a hefty sum for mine but sold them back.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:51 PM

6. Public admin 110 book $135.00 Poli Sci 329 two books on $110.00 other $35.00.

Sad to say but book price has become a factor when deciding what classes to take.

I bought a $130.00 Mass Communication book that we used 1 time during the semester. Grrr.

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Response to Ed Suspicious (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:18 PM

33. $250 for one book

I'm the winner of the book off!

Loser more like.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:51 PM

7. 'Twas ever thus.

1974-78 for me. The science/math books were especially pricey because of all the special typesetting etc. Or so they told us.

My favorite scam: The professor requiring his own book. "Hey, I'm paying good tuition money to hear that shit straight from your mouth, not to READ it."

I'm sure that has not changed.

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Response to Richardo (Reply #7)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 08:56 AM

67. That should be banned

as it is especially unethical. Requiring your own textbook for a class puts more money in your pocket due to the royalties. Sure, it won't be much, but it's still money. Not to mention that it's very, very egotistical.

As for book prices, I have a math book in my library that I paid $150 for used and they wouldn't take it back at the end of the year because they were moving to a newer edition. At least I still read my British Lit compendium that they wouldn't buy back...

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:51 PM

8. I don't think so...

I paid 115 for Geo Lab book

125 Geology text book

I forget how much for my health class text book but it wasn't cheap

and then there was my Library Research book that one was pretty cheap.

Total was around 500 dollars.

When I went to college in 1988 the total for all my books which I actually had to buy more of because I was taking 15 credits, was around 200 dollars. My most expensive book was just over 50 dollars, that was a Geography text book.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:51 PM

9. Yep...and to prove it..I bought a hard bound copy today of "Windows 8 Bible" about 600 pages...

...for 39 bucks. When I went to college, a soft cover "official" textbook for networking computers cost me a cool $97.50

A complete ripoff...

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:52 PM

10. Yes, my books back in the 60's cost a fortune, especially some of the math and physics ones ...

Fortunately, there were also used ones ... but when you sold a textbook back it was a total ripoff.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:52 PM

11. Yes

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:52 PM

12. Yes, they've always been expensive

Not really a scam though. You have to remember that textbooks, especially college textbooks, have a limited audience. The publishers aren't printing the same number as the latest John Grisham novel.

I would hope that more textbooks would come out for an e-reader. You still have to pay for intellectual property rights, but at least there wouldn't be printing costs.

BTW, they were expensive in the 70s when I was in college. I was able to buy most of my books used (and was happy to have a copy with notes written in the margins!)

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:53 PM

13. I remember some college textbooks

that were well over $100 in the early 80's.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:54 PM

14. I had an anthropology class that had 6 required textbooks which were $80-120 each.

One of them just happened to be the professor's own book.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:55 PM

15. Engineering textbooks used to be $500/semester

 

That was a decade ago.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:56 PM

16. Yes, but I think the internet is making things better now.

About 1/3 of my students now buy their books on Amazon or some other online source. There is also textbook rental available online, which is even cheaper.

The biggest ripoff, by far, is the campus bookstore. Don't give those bastards your money!

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Response to deucemagnet (Reply #16)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:08 PM

24. I try not too, sadly I had to for the book I mentioned in the OP.

Amazon didn't ship the book with the access code needed for the online component and it would have cost an extra 80$ to buy the code alone so the bookstore was a little cheaper, but normally I avoid them like the plauge.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:59 PM

17. I always bought used books.....

and I figured out my classes and textbooks ahead of time so that when the book buyers were there the end of a term, I could buy the next term books from them. You have to develop a relationship but they are happy to sell some of the books, fewer for them to haul off. And this way, I usually could get them for less than half price. There are also places on line where you can buy books for less. If you know ahead of time what classes you are taking, get the book list as soon as you can and check online.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:02 PM

18. They were in 1995. New editions every semester, anyone?


Keeps you from buying used or selling back. Worse when the profs (bless them) write their own.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:02 PM

19. I can't speak for all of time, obviously,

but I do know that my own experience with college textbooks in the 80's mirrors yours and I also thought it was a perpetual bullshit ripoff. And my parents have said the same thing about their college days in the late 50's, early 60's. And now my son is experiencing what you are; so this semester he got most of his books from Amazon and saved literally hundreds of dollars. The college textbook racket has been a ripoff for forever it seems.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:04 PM

20. Just wait till you sell it back to the univestity...they'll give you $45 for it. TOPS. n/t

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Response to Earth_First (Reply #20)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:04 PM

21. ...then sell it used next semester for $90. n/t

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:05 PM

22. Yes, textbooks have always been costly.

They were when I went to college back in the late '70's, though not as bad as they are now. For one class I am taking now, a rather thin paperback book cost $178. I had to buy it new, because no used ones were available.

Oh, and another trick that I remember running into the first time around is the school bookstore refusing to buy a book back because a new book or new edition will be used for that course next semester.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:08 PM

23. Yep...

Went to college in the 90s...it was avg $75-125 for any given text, especially Math, Biology, and Chemistry and LAB classes

NOW...I am back in school and my Media and Society book is $160!!! and it is less than 200 pgs, paperback!!!

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Response to FirstLight (Reply #23)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:15 PM

30. Nobody has beat me yet

$250 for a math book: discrete mathematics and it's applications, Rosen, 7th edition.

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Response to Confusious (Reply #30)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:22 PM

36. Was it good?

I hope so!

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:09 PM

25. Big ripoff. Colleges are in the scam, too.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:11 PM

26. Totally, and never more so than now.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:12 PM

27. just bought a neurobio textbook for 190 dollars

the costs are ridiculous

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Response to Cane4Dems (Reply #27)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:47 PM

41. Kandel and Schwartz, by any chance?

I read the first edition many moons ago...

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #41)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 10:31 AM

68. haha no its by Bear

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Response to Cane4Dems (Reply #68)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 10:44 AM

69. Well, I hope it's not a bear to read!

Actually, I'm not sure if "bear" is still the correct terminology for a @#$% of a course.

In any case, have fun! I miss neurobio, it was interesting and challenging.

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Response to MannyGoldstein (Reply #69)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 08:33 PM

70. Thank you!

so far I've enjoyed the class- its a fascinating topic

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:13 PM

28. Professor's perspective

OK. I'm one of the people making y'all buy the books.

So, what are my considerations?

1) Do I look at the book's cost? Yes. I have stopped using at least one textbook because it cost too much, even though I thought it was a better book than the others, and even though switching from it meant that I would have to rework much of the course. It was probably time for some changes anyway, but that's a big decision, and a big time investment on my part, all because the book went from $90 to $135, seemingly without good reason. I've started looking for shorter texts in the $45-$60 range, even though these will have fewer features, and may not be as comprehensive. I also look now for cheaper online versions and Kindle versions of other (non-textbooks) books I order. I also look at the economics of the bookstore rental programs.

2) Do I order an expensive book and then never use it? No, of course not. Whether a textbook can be fully integrated into a course is perhaps the most important criterion for its adoption, and that's true for everyone I know. Indeed, we often do syllabus reviews of other faculty, and I think somebody might get literally called on the carpet if he or she had an expensive textbook that wasn't being used through most of the course. To be frank, I think this happens more in students' imaginations than in actual practice. No doubt I will be regaled with counter-cases, but it would take more than that, since it simply doesn't match general practice. I'll be blunt: this is usually a complaint from people who don't follow the syllabus and skip readings: the problem of underuse is a problem of under-reading, not under-assigning, as it were.

3) Do I concern myself with whether a book can be sold back? Yes. I have in the past not ordered a book when I knew another edition was being released soon. That kills the resale. Do I let students buy previous editions - sometimes. It causes a lot of problems in a course to have two or three students on a different page and missing some exercises and the like. Well, not a lot of problems. It's just a pain in the ass.

That said, most of my courses don't use textbooks, but other books and readings, including coursepacks (see Basic Books v. Kinko's if you want to know why THOSE are so expensive! But understand that we use coursepacks and reserve books precisely to avoid having you buy a whole book for one chapter or article!). Ultimately, I feel comfortable if book costs remain under $130 for the course. I feel happy if they are under $100, and we can still cover what we need to cover.

While people might not believe it, most college professors 1) care deeply about their teaching; 2) review and re-review and think about the textbooks they're using, at a pedagogical level; 3) think carefully about the economics of universities for their students, including textbook costs; 4) engage textbook and other academic publishers about the costs of books and alternative delivery methods that can reduce costs to publishers and students; and 4) carefully weigh pedagogical benefits against economic costs.

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Response to alcibiades_mystery (Reply #28)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 11:59 PM

53. Since I was and am in education,

I keep my old textbooks. I consider them part of my professional library.

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Response to duffyduff (Reply #53)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 01:11 AM

61. That's the right thing to do.

I figure that if I want to review anything later on, it is nicest to have the familiar form and my notes.

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Response to duffyduff (Reply #53)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 08:19 AM

63. I do try to use books that would be "keepers" for students

I kept almost all of my college textbooks and other books myself, in fact. But the economic reality is that many, if not most, will at least hope to sell them back on to the market, and that the used book market that develops from that is actually useful for many students.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:14 PM

29. At least since the late '70's

which is when I was in undergraduate school.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:16 PM

31. I'm still the winner, or loser as you may see it it

$250 for a math book: discrete mathematics and it's applications, Rosen, 7th edition, hard cover.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:16 PM

32. Yes!

I'm assuming you've found Chegg?

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Response to cilla4progress (Reply #32)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:18 PM

34. Chegg? No, I normally use Amazon.

I'll keep that in mind for next semester, though. Anything to keep the con artists that are the university bookstore away from my money.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #34)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:23 PM

38. Must check out Chegg.

It's used textbooks. A great service. My daughter uses it every time she can. Check it out and I hope it helps!

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:20 PM

35. Always

 

Back in the late '60's the worst I experienced was a "self published by the Prof" math book that was nothing more than a spiral bound note book. Every quarter you were required to turn in 2 worksheets, the same ones every quarter, to get credit for the course. Obviously that made the "book" worthless for resale.

I complained about it but his attitude was that I was on the GI bill anyway so it shouldn't bother me. (He made it known that he didn't like vets who had served in S.E. Asia but I think that was to score points with the "hippie chick" he was banging.)

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:22 PM

37. 1976 -- Yup, a rip-off.

Although even back then I had some college teachers who were not participants and found books that were more-or-less off the shelf, mass published books so that the cost was minimal. Those were usually the best teachers I had in college.

Then there were the professors who were authors and, of course, told you to buy their overpriced book.

But I learned early that in many cases you could actual never get the text book and get by just fine and pass the class. (Ask previous students: did the teacher test on the text book reading or on the lectures?)

My son in college now is renting text books -- that appears to be somewhat more affordable. And we have also found that the previous editions of a lot of college text books sell for much less and are almost always as good as the 'required' latest edition.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:30 PM

39. I think so--even back in the early days of affordable tuitions, I always thought books were dear.

I remember borrowing a book or two from a wealthy classmate and going to the rather primitive xerox machine because it was cheaper to xerox the book than buy it new!

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:44 PM

40. absolutely. but if it makes you feel any better, the professors get ripped off too.

they get a small fraction of each book purchased, but they're often poorly paid, especially compared to what they could be getting in the business world, so they feel under pressure to write their own textbooks and to force students to buy new books and new editions for the extra pittance they get. publishers and the university get the lion's share.

best bet is usually to ignore the professor's pressure and get a used copy, possibly of an old edition. often any underlining or highlighting done by previous owners is a bit of added value. savvy professors will mix up the problem sets to foil this, so make friends with a fellow student who has the latest edition just in case


having said that, note that many textbooks are not made on the scale of other books. if a book sells millions of copies, you don't have to charge much to make a hefty profit. but if a book sells only a few hundred a year, you do have to charge more just to break even. so the real question often is, why can't the professor stick to a more standard textbook and just make his own commentary or assign supplementary reading where he believes the standard textbook is wrong or insufficient?

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:50 PM

42. I worked in a campus bookshop 5 years ago and some law students and radiology

students were spending upwards of $1000.00 on books per term. Unbelievable.

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Response to applegrove (Reply #42)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:57 PM

46. 1000$ per term?

As If I wasn't already worried about how I was going to pay for law school. I swear I feel like the entire system of legal education is designed to rip people off.

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #46)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 11:01 PM

47. Yup. They were by far the most expensive textbooks. And you needed a lot of them.

The campus book store did have a really good second hand book trade that helped some students a great deal I am sure.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:50 PM

43. Major rip-off. A couple of my professors have mentioned that their texts get updated periodically.

And the old additions become not available. They would still use the previous versions (because the updates are usually minor) if available. All the used books are not good.

You can rent the books online. In fact I recently rented a text from the college bookstore for about $24.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:53 PM

44. Ha! I was on the other end of this some years ago.

I wrote a dinky little textbook that sold a fair number of copies. Price started out low, then the publisher jacked it way up. I asked why, and was told that when a textbook is first published, they kept prices down to increase the chance of adoption. But profs usually don't check the price again after they adopt the book, freeing the publishers to jack prices in a few years.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 10:56 PM

45. i was ripped off in the 90s but not that bad. damn.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 11:25 PM

48. Textbooks are expensive...

but you have to remember that there isn't much of a market for them. The latest paperback will sell for $5 because the publisher will make their money on it. Textbooks have a limited audience, and so the price goes up on them.

I bought a Biology textbook for about $120 when I was in my second year of university. Barely used it, and it was in excellent condition, so I took it back to the store to sell it back (no, I wasn't going to try to return it... ). The guy buying books was willing to give me $4 for it. I kept it. It came in handy when I became a teacher and had to teach...biology. Funny how those things work.

My advice...check campus bulletin boards, online sites (abebooks.com, for example) and other places to see if you can get a good deal. And keep the good ones...you never know when you will need them. Or pass them on to someone who needs them the year after. You can make some of your money back.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 11:36 PM

49. Yup

German, shmerman, an internal medicine book ran my brother 500 in 1976.



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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 11:52 PM

50. I had to buy a book this semester for Fitness Walking.

It is no thicker than a magazine and cost $65. Why anyone needs a book for a phys ed class is beyond me.

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Response to VenusRising (Reply #50)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 11:56 PM

51. Let me save you 65$. Put one foot in front of the other in a slow leisurely pace.

Seriously, how much can you write on the topic of walking?

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Response to white_wolf (Reply #51)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 12:00 AM

54. My jaw dropped when I saw the price on that book.

Not to mention the amounts of blank space on each page is such a waste.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 11:58 PM

52. They've always been

and probably always will be because relatively few copies are published.

What drives me up the wall is professors who require students to buy the books they have written.

Ebooks promise to be an even bigger ripoff since you don't even own the downloads.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 12:05 AM

55. My statistics text cost $230 new (with accompanying disk and online module "license")

My instructor informed everyone we weren't doing the online module (hardly anyone does it) and he had a copy of the excel ap on a thumb drive that the disk had on it that we would use in class.

So I got the textbook used on Amazon Student for $18.00. And it's a f'n cheap POS text book that won't hold up for one more class - the pages are flimsy-thin, acidy, and the binding is cheap glue.
If I had to pay $230 for a new book, I'd not think it would be worth the price.
I have been working on my degree for the past two years - and I have yet to find a modern textbook that would hold up more to more than a year or two of use - and some of these books are required for later classes.
I've bought cheap paperback novels in the 1990's that had better "re-read/re-use" capability than the textbooks these days. Heck, I've printed out online rental e-textbooks that were of better quality.

Haele

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 12:08 AM

56. I posted about this recently, complaining about having to buy a new Shakespeare each semester

It's not as though The Bard had done much revising from from one year to the next, and these texts weren't even analyses or critiques; they were simply The Complete Works, reformatted slightly but otherwise more or less interchangeable. But for each of several different English courses I was required to buy a new edition which had, of course, very little resale value. As I recall, they ran somewhere between $50 and $80.

I was pretty steamed about it.




Until I mentioned it to a friend who had, by that time, had to purchase three separate calculus books, each costing more than $150 and 100% ineligible for resale.


To answer your question, college texts have been a ripoff for at least 20 years in my experience, and probably much longer than that. The whole college industry is largely a ripoff, while we're at it, but the textbook racket is particularly egregious.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 12:12 AM

57. No

Compared to a bestseller, a far-higher percentage of the book's revenue goes to printing setup costs, editorial, etc than the actual materials. There's hardly any volume. You're getting a book that is specifically designed to teach your kids at their level, and there's value in that.

That doesn't mean there aren't bad textbooks, and that some professors don't exploit your dependence on them. I had a Critical Reasoning class once where the professor made everyone buy his book on Jewish folklore, then referred to it once in class.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 12:13 AM

58. A big ripoff in the 90's.

I remember a chemistry book that was about 500 pages for about $175. Maybe 20% of those pages touch upon the subject, but every single table and chart imaginable could be found in the back. Fuck, I think it had an ASCII table and a map of Liechtenstein in it.

I would have rather paid the same amount for a 100 page book that had only what I needed it. Sure I'd be pissed about spending almost $2 per page, but at least then I wouldn't have had to lug 400 pages of shit all over campus.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 01:05 AM

59. That's not so bad.


I've taken language classes at college before and paid $120 for a brand new book. Of course, with the new book I got a subscription to the homework software included, while the "clever" students who bought from the used bookstore from $90 had to spend another $50 to be able to do the homework. Still, the book and subscription were good for 2 semesters and it averaged $60/semester. Not shabby at all, especially considering that textbooks are usually not able to benefit from economies of scale. This is not popular like the Twilight series, so all the fixed costs of creating the book are going to be spread out over a much smaller print run. If 14,000,000 students each year were taking German, then maybe it would be possible to cut costs. Only Spanish language classes are popular enough that the number of students might nibble away at the cost.

Of course, the biggest ripoff in school is skipping class. A foreign language class generally meets for 4 hours (defined as 50 minute per hour session) a week for about 16 weeks. That's 64 hours. And often at a price of around $750/credit. So $3,000 for 64 hours of class. That's about $50/hour and we're not even talking about all the other fees that being a student incurs. But I don't hear people complain about how much the skipping they do costs them compared to the price of books.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 01:11 AM

60. i did`t buy my books when i went to community college in the late 60`s

i either borrowed them and i had classes where the instructor told us we really did`t need them.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 08:36 AM

64. Yes. and it's getting worse. nt

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 08:41 AM

65. Yes, they've always been a ripoff ...

... and they're a scheme so that professors can claim they're "published", as if they have something new to say.

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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 08:47 AM

66. They've always been really expensive.

I thought it was because 1. They generally have more ink, pages, and content than other books, and 2. They have a smaller market.

I always assumed that it was good to require the most up-to-date version, to make sure students were getting the most up-to-date information. It never occurred to me that a new edition would be the same content in a different package.

Of course, I've been known to be naive about the way academia works on other occasions as well.

My son, finishing his masters, got a kindle just so he could get digital versions of his text books. They aren't really cheaper, but they're a hell of a lot lighter and easier to tote around.

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