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Biggest Scam Going??.....College Textbooks


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Biggest Scam Going??.....College Textbooks
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kieran
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: New York City
 
2006-03-27, 20:10

Well I don't go to a "normal" school. Drexel is on a trimester schedule and I've been working for the past six months on my co-op. This means that I'm going back to classes on Monday for the first time this year. And that means one thing, buying books again.

Why are they so damn expensive? Really though, is there any other reason besides greed to make the books cost this much? The absolute worst is when a professor makes one of their books required reading for the course. That's straight bullshit.

I hate spending over $1000 every year just for books. Anyone else??
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Kickaha
Likes his boobies blue.
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Hell
 
2006-03-27, 20:11

*looks at several dozen shelf feet of textbooks*

I have no idea what you're talking about.

*goes to buy more Ramen*
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atomicbartbeans
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2006-03-27, 20:14

Somebody needs to set up a textbook swap site, where you trade in texts from the previous semester for new ones at a nominal fee to cover shipping.

Thank god my high school signs out texts for the year.

You ask me for a hamburger.
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MCQ
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2006-03-27, 20:15

Quote:
Originally Posted by kieran23kk
I hate spending over $1000 every year just for books. Anyone else??
You don't actually buy from the bookstore do you?

Buy on half.com, or any used books place. Trade books with friends, etc. There's no reason to spend so much.

And buy ramen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by atomicbartbeans
Somebody needs to set up a textbook swap site, where you trade in texts from the previous semester for new ones at a nominal fee to cover shipping.
People at some universities have already set up sites like that. There's a couple at UF that are book swap or listing sites.
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Banana
is the next Chiquita
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2006-03-27, 20:15

Quote:
Originally Posted by kieran23kk
Well I don't go to a "normal" school. Drexel is on a trimester schedule and I've been working for the past six months on my co-op. This means that I'm going back to classes on Monday for the first time this year. And that means one thing, buying books again.

Why are they so damn expensive? Really though, is there any other reason besides greed to make the books cost this much? The absolute worst is when a professor makes one of their books required reading for the course. That's straight bullshit.

I hate spending over $1000 every year just for books. Anyone else??
Come over in this nice black car. We'll be having a friendly chat, you and me. I'm sure we can help you see it our way.
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DMBand0026
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Join Date: May 2004
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2006-03-27, 20:17

High schools can't charge students for texts since students are required to have them. However, the student's parent's tax dollars pay for them, so someone is obviously footing the bill. Anyway...

I spent a lot of money on text books that I didn't need to, and a lot of money that I did need to. Some of my books are valuable to me, even today when I'm no longer in school, and some I look at and wonder why I wasted $150 on it.

Come waste your time with me
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intlplby
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Join Date: Dec 2004
 
2006-03-27, 20:27

they need to have electronic copies made available.... textbooks are definitely one book i don't need in hard copy
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kieran
Tweeting @kierankelly
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: New York City
 
2006-03-27, 20:41

Quote:
Originally Posted by MCQ
You don't actually buy from the bookstore do you?

Buy on half.com, or any used books place. Trade books with friends, etc. There's no reason to spend so much.

And buy ramen. :
No, I don't buy from the bookstore, but I have to buy books for three terms, well at least last year i did. I bought online and still spent almost $1000
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ghoti
owner for sale by house
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Charlotte, NC
 
2006-03-27, 20:47

Our bookstore buys used textbooks and sells them again. I agree that textbooks are too expensive, but only having them in electronic form is not a solution. Paper is much more useful, and what if you realize that you really liked that one book/want to stay in that field and will use that book in the future? I threw away many of my textbooks, but I still have half a dozen or so that I really like and also use every now and again.

BTW, the only people getting rich from those books are the publishers. I've written two book chapters, and haven't seen a single cent. That's probably different for monographs, but even then I doubt that the authors make a lot of money. Also, in some areas there just aren't any useful textbooks at all. I'm teaching a course right now, and I give my students photocopies from several books. I could have required to buy two or three textbooks, though .... So perhaps I'll write a book someday, and that will certainly be relevant for my course (if I still teach it by then). And even if there are books on your subject, they are not going to necessarily reflect what you want to teach your students, or how you think the material should be presented.
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colivigan
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Join Date: Nov 2005
 
2006-03-27, 20:51

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoti
Our bookstore buys used textbooks and sells them again.
Yeah, back in the day, this was always a big bonus at the end of the semester. Used books for beer money.
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Banana
is the next Chiquita
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
 
2006-03-27, 20:54

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoti
BTW, the only people getting rich from those books are the publishers. I've written two book chapters, and haven't seen a single cent. That's probably different for monographs, but even then I doubt that the authors make a lot of money. Also, in some areas there just aren't any useful textbooks at all. I'm teaching a course right now, and I give my students photocopies from several books. I could have required to buy two or three textbooks, though .... So perhaps I'll write a book someday, and that will certainly be relevant for my course (if I still teach it by then). And even if there are books on your subject, they are not going to necessarily reflect what you want to teach your students, or how you think the material should be presented.
I'd like to see what's the profit margin on those... I'd imagine that the cost of paper, binding, and ink would be quite high, when you consider that the textbook is of a higher quality compared to most of hardcover books out there. If it was low, then okay. If not, that's a bad thing.

Assuming that publishers break even or close to that, do they really have to use glossy paper, with lot of colors?
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ast3r3x
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2006-03-27, 21:00

And how much is Drexel a year? Right. (a lot)

And how much does it cost to live in the city? Right. (probably a lot)

You've got much bigger problems than books
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Artap99
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2006-03-27, 21:13

I've talked to a lot of professors who wrote the textbooks for my college. They need to sell a certain amount to start seeing money for them, as the publisher "charges" them to make the book. When I say charge, I mean that the writer of the book sees no profit until the publisher does.
College texts aren't exactly books that fly off of the shelves, so publishing a professor's work is a bit of a risk. Most of the classes at my college have thirty students. So even if the professor is teaching the same class twice every semester (which is highly unlikely), the most you're going to have a year is 120 books bought. But realistically, it would be more around 100 or so when you account for the people who bought a used copy, didn't buy a copy, shared a copy, etc.
In order for my old art teacher to make money off of his book, he had to sell 4,000 copies (I think that's what he said. It may have been less/more). It doesn't really seem like that much in a global sense, but it does in a relative sense. That's 40 years of teaching to make a profit.
A lot of professors require students to buy their books because it's their book. They wrote it specifically for the course. It compliments their teaching style and makes things more fluid.
This isn't a blanket statement. Not everything is like this, but for the most part it's true. I realize that some classes have a couple hundred students and the books are required and the teachers are making money, but that isn't a typical situation.

In conclusion, the books don't make much money, so the publishers charge more for the niche audience (since they generally can't refuse to buy it). The professors don't usually make much money, they use it to assist in teaching. And it sucks for the students.
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ast3r3x
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2006-03-27, 21:35

It's completely ridiculous that each professor has to write their own book! I think it's arrogant for them to think that too, unless it's a REALLY specific and unique subject.
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kieran
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Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: New York City
 
2006-03-27, 22:22

Quote:
Originally Posted by ast3r3x
And how much is Drexel a year? Right. (a lot)

And how much does it cost to live in the city? Right. (probably a lot)

You've got much bigger problems than books

Yea, Drexel's not the easiest school on the wallet. They're going to be taking plenty of my money for another three years though..
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Sauvblanc
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Mel-Bun!
 
2006-03-27, 23:28

What used to annoy me back in the day when I was at University was that they'd alternate between these two biochem textbooks even though the two would invariably teach you exactly the same thing. It was a total scam as far as I could tell. One might be more "cool" than the other because they had stereoscopic (sp?? i.e. 3D) pictures so you could see the structure of DNA in 3 dimensions. Ooooh! But really, you could have used either textbook and done just fine. I realized this after the fact and I have THREE biochem textbooks that cost about $80 each and there's very little to distinguish them. Ugh.
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Kickaha
Likes his boobies blue.
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2006-03-27, 23:32

Quote:
Originally Posted by ast3r3x
It's completely ridiculous that each professor has to write their own book! I think it's arrogant for them to think that too, unless it's a REALLY specific and unique subject.
Well, the problem is that most textbooks suck rocks, so a lot of profs are trying to give it a different spin, and make something that is (in their mind) a bit more accessible.

I know I've had the urge to write a textbook or two, because criminy, I couldn't do any *worse*...

My other brain is hung like a horse too.
#IRC isn't old school.
Old school is being able to say 'finger me' with a straight face.
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ast3r3x
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2006-03-28, 00:08

I'm just saying, a full published book isn't the only way to give your unique spin and focus on a topic. At least I don't think so, but I'm not a teacher.
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Wrao
Yarp
 
Join Date: May 2004
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2006-03-28, 00:56

One very positive thing about Berklee college of music, they have their own press and they don't sell bound textbooks(you provide a folder for 100 odd sheets of paper). The result is that their textbooks cost $12-30.
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Anonymous Coward
Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
 
2006-03-28, 01:41

Quote:
Originally Posted by ghoti
BTW, the only people getting rich from those books are the publishers.
Perhaps there's some sort of conspiracy with the "international editions - not for sale in outside of (insert some country not in North/South America or Europe)" that seem to make it here anyway.

What I mean is that with these publishers, the professors make even less. I believe that some professors have given up on the publishing game. I had a professor who authored some well-reviewed texts (Sergio Franco, Electrical Engineering - you can see reviews on Amazon) but lately he has been distributing class materials loose leaf at a nominal charge, distributed by the local IEEE (student affiliate of a professional organization). There is a small profit for the organization, but the cost is still 1/4 or less of an equivalent textbook.
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Moogs
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Join Date: May 2004
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2006-03-28, 09:30

There was some commentary about this very thing in an earlier thread. Total scam. I can remember buying texts for like $80, they'd buy 'em back for like $18 and resell them as "Used" for $60. And worst of all they'd always give us a stack of two dollar bills (probably counterfeit). If you're going to ream me for every buy back, at least have the common decency to use 10 and 5 dollar bills you bungholes!

I say boycott all college text buy-back programs. It is better to make nothing on it, and donate it to your local library, than it is to let them scalp you repeatedly, semester after semester. Ideally, if you find someone who is taking the class after you, you sell it for $10 less than the used price. Then the Buy-back program gets reamed.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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ast3r3x
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2006-03-28, 09:35

PennState buys back books for…50% or 75% I'm not sure which, as long as they are using them in a class next semester.

Maybe Messiah can say for sure, I don't remember. I didn't sell back my books because I liked them all. Except for that damn math book, don't need that.
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Majost
monkey with a tiny cymbal
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
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2006-03-28, 09:38

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs
There was some commentary about this very thing in an earlier thread. Total scam. I can remember buying texts for like $80, they'd buy 'em back for like $18 and resell them as "Used" for $60. And worst of all they'd always give us a stack of two dollar bills (probably counterfeit). If you're going to ream me for every buy back, at least have the common decency to use 10 and 5 dollar bills you bungholes!

I say boycott all college text buy-back programs. It is better to make nothing on it, and donate it to your local library, than it is to let them scalp you repeatedly, semester after semester. Ideally, if you find someone who is taking the class after you, you sell it for $10 less than the used price. Then the Buy-back program gets reamed.
Amen. Although the text industry is high priced, that does not compare to the price gauging Follett (The bookstore operator on probably 90+% of campuses) participates in. There is the true evil... I mean, just buying straight from amazon (new!) typically saves 20% over the bookstore on my campus. And the supplies are twice as much as you might find at a typical office supply store.

At least the internet is starting to shake things up. Between buying used and campus book-trading community sites that are popping up on many campuses, I hope they start to feel the squeeze.
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MCQ
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2006-03-28, 19:07

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moogs
I say boycott all college text buy-back programs. It is better to make nothing on it, and donate it to your local library, than it is to let them scalp you repeatedly, semester after semester. Ideally, if you find someone who is taking the class after you, you sell it for $10 less than the used price. Then the Buy-back program gets reamed.
There's other options too:
  • If you're taking classes for your major in a different order than a friend, just swap books after the semester.
  • If you live with friends who are taking the same class, and the book isn't required in class to do work, just split the cost and buy one book to share for the semeseter.

I will say that in rare occurrences (1% of the time), buyback actually beats what you can get on some used book sites.
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Moogs
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2006-03-28, 19:45

Yah, Majost is right too. I would've loved to have Amazon at my disposal in college but Netscape 1.0 didn't even exist until my sophomore year or there-bouts, let's put it that way.

...into the light of a dark black night.
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