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Friday, November 2, 2007

Why college textbooks are a rip off

My freshman year of college, I believe I spent about $500 on college text books. Looking back, it was a foolish mistake, but I didn't know better at the time.

My first mistake was that I assumed that when a class said a text was required, they meant it. This turned out to be not true. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't. Second, I bought books too late and there were no used ones left. Third, I didn't check the internet to compare prices.

Really, I think the college textbook industry is a huge rip off. If you've ever taken a class that recently switched from, say, edition 5 to edition 6, you may have noticed that the differences in the editions was primarily in the problem sets. Some texts may have major updates, but for the most part, the facts stay the same. Often times, the problems aren't even completely different, just altered in a minor way. How frustrating.

Not all professors played the game. One professor said that a text was required, but we could get any standard text relating to Control Systems we wanted. He pointed us to Amazon. He taught primarily from his lecture notes (and a text wasn't truly necessary), saving me about $100 that semester.

Also, why are we only given the option of hardcover texts? My boyfriend insists he loves hardcovers because they last longer (whatever). Shouldn't I have the option to easily purchase softcover to save some money? I did a semester in Hong Kong, and their book store didn't contain a single hardcover text for class. Not only that, but many of the students didn't buy the text anyway, as the professor often scanned the necessary material for the students. While that may violate some sort of copyright laws, not offering the softcover versions to US students seems unfair. In fact, I brought the two texts I bought (for a reasonable price!) in Hong Kong and sold them on Amazon in the US. I probably made a small profit, even though I priced them lower than the similar hardcover versions. Abebooks.com often offers softcover "international" versions of college texts. I used one from there for one of my graduate classes last semester.

At the end of the semester, the college bookstore offers to buy back your textbooks from you. This is another rip off. They try to tell you that buying and selling your books through the book store is "good for the college" because they donate money to various student groups. I'd much rather that they offer me a fair price for my books! If I can sell it for $70 on Amazon, and the bookstore will sell it for $90 in the store next fall, why on earth would I give it to them for $45?

I would speculate that this scam of the textbook industry trickles down to high school and elementary school, but since the books are provided for "free" (with tax money), people aren't as aware of it. I went to a private school and we had to buy our own textbooks. Rather than the bookstore running a scam to make profits off of used books, each family would put an envelop with a price inside the book they were offering to sell. The students formed a big line (I think you got a place according to a raffle number) and you would pick the books you wanted to buy. You'd pay the amount listed on the envelope, which was later given to the parent. Unless a class was switching editions, you could come out about even every year.

In later years of college, you could sometimes do a similar thing with classmates a semester ahead of you. These days, with facebook and other social networking sites hooking up buyers and sellers more easily, I wonder if anyone still shops at the bookstore.

2 comments:

Nivek said...

I hardly open my books and can still pull down A's. I keep buying them thinking that this time, I'll actually need them. They are almost as big of a rip off as the over-priced tuition.

Anonymous said...

this is my first year of college. I bought books from a bookstore near the campus and sold them back and I got ripped off. I then bought my books from the school for spring semester. At the end of this semester I plan to sell them all online to get more money, and I will also buy online! I feel so stupid, but I am glad I figured this out early.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Why college textbooks are a rip off

My freshman year of college, I believe I spent about $500 on college text books. Looking back, it was a foolish mistake, but I didn't know better at the time.

My first mistake was that I assumed that when a class said a text was required, they meant it. This turned out to be not true. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't. Second, I bought books too late and there were no used ones left. Third, I didn't check the internet to compare prices.

Really, I think the college textbook industry is a huge rip off. If you've ever taken a class that recently switched from, say, edition 5 to edition 6, you may have noticed that the differences in the editions was primarily in the problem sets. Some texts may have major updates, but for the most part, the facts stay the same. Often times, the problems aren't even completely different, just altered in a minor way. How frustrating.

Not all professors played the game. One professor said that a text was required, but we could get any standard text relating to Control Systems we wanted. He pointed us to Amazon. He taught primarily from his lecture notes (and a text wasn't truly necessary), saving me about $100 that semester.

Also, why are we only given the option of hardcover texts? My boyfriend insists he loves hardcovers because they last longer (whatever). Shouldn't I have the option to easily purchase softcover to save some money? I did a semester in Hong Kong, and their book store didn't contain a single hardcover text for class. Not only that, but many of the students didn't buy the text anyway, as the professor often scanned the necessary material for the students. While that may violate some sort of copyright laws, not offering the softcover versions to US students seems unfair. In fact, I brought the two texts I bought (for a reasonable price!) in Hong Kong and sold them on Amazon in the US. I probably made a small profit, even though I priced them lower than the similar hardcover versions. Abebooks.com often offers softcover "international" versions of college texts. I used one from there for one of my graduate classes last semester.

At the end of the semester, the college bookstore offers to buy back your textbooks from you. This is another rip off. They try to tell you that buying and selling your books through the book store is "good for the college" because they donate money to various student groups. I'd much rather that they offer me a fair price for my books! If I can sell it for $70 on Amazon, and the bookstore will sell it for $90 in the store next fall, why on earth would I give it to them for $45?

I would speculate that this scam of the textbook industry trickles down to high school and elementary school, but since the books are provided for "free" (with tax money), people aren't as aware of it. I went to a private school and we had to buy our own textbooks. Rather than the bookstore running a scam to make profits off of used books, each family would put an envelop with a price inside the book they were offering to sell. The students formed a big line (I think you got a place according to a raffle number) and you would pick the books you wanted to buy. You'd pay the amount listed on the envelope, which was later given to the parent. Unless a class was switching editions, you could come out about even every year.

In later years of college, you could sometimes do a similar thing with classmates a semester ahead of you. These days, with facebook and other social networking sites hooking up buyers and sellers more easily, I wonder if anyone still shops at the bookstore.

2 comments:

Nivek said...

I hardly open my books and can still pull down A's. I keep buying them thinking that this time, I'll actually need them. They are almost as big of a rip off as the over-priced tuition.

Anonymous said...

this is my first year of college. I bought books from a bookstore near the campus and sold them back and I got ripped off. I then bought my books from the school for spring semester. At the end of this semester I plan to sell them all online to get more money, and I will also buy online! I feel so stupid, but I am glad I figured this out early.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Why college textbooks are a rip off

My freshman year of college, I believe I spent about $500 on college text books. Looking back, it was a foolish mistake, but I didn't know better at the time.

My first mistake was that I assumed that when a class said a text was required, they meant it. This turned out to be not true. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't. Second, I bought books too late and there were no used ones left. Third, I didn't check the internet to compare prices.

Really, I think the college textbook industry is a huge rip off. If you've ever taken a class that recently switched from, say, edition 5 to edition 6, you may have noticed that the differences in the editions was primarily in the problem sets. Some texts may have major updates, but for the most part, the facts stay the same. Often times, the problems aren't even completely different, just altered in a minor way. How frustrating.

Not all professors played the game. One professor said that a text was required, but we could get any standard text relating to Control Systems we wanted. He pointed us to Amazon. He taught primarily from his lecture notes (and a text wasn't truly necessary), saving me about $100 that semester.

Also, why are we only given the option of hardcover texts? My boyfriend insists he loves hardcovers because they last longer (whatever). Shouldn't I have the option to easily purchase softcover to save some money? I did a semester in Hong Kong, and their book store didn't contain a single hardcover text for class. Not only that, but many of the students didn't buy the text anyway, as the professor often scanned the necessary material for the students. While that may violate some sort of copyright laws, not offering the softcover versions to US students seems unfair. In fact, I brought the two texts I bought (for a reasonable price!) in Hong Kong and sold them on Amazon in the US. I probably made a small profit, even though I priced them lower than the similar hardcover versions. Abebooks.com often offers softcover "international" versions of college texts. I used one from there for one of my graduate classes last semester.

At the end of the semester, the college bookstore offers to buy back your textbooks from you. This is another rip off. They try to tell you that buying and selling your books through the book store is "good for the college" because they donate money to various student groups. I'd much rather that they offer me a fair price for my books! If I can sell it for $70 on Amazon, and the bookstore will sell it for $90 in the store next fall, why on earth would I give it to them for $45?

I would speculate that this scam of the textbook industry trickles down to high school and elementary school, but since the books are provided for "free" (with tax money), people aren't as aware of it. I went to a private school and we had to buy our own textbooks. Rather than the bookstore running a scam to make profits off of used books, each family would put an envelop with a price inside the book they were offering to sell. The students formed a big line (I think you got a place according to a raffle number) and you would pick the books you wanted to buy. You'd pay the amount listed on the envelope, which was later given to the parent. Unless a class was switching editions, you could come out about even every year.

In later years of college, you could sometimes do a similar thing with classmates a semester ahead of you. These days, with facebook and other social networking sites hooking up buyers and sellers more easily, I wonder if anyone still shops at the bookstore.

2 comments:

Nivek said...

I hardly open my books and can still pull down A's. I keep buying them thinking that this time, I'll actually need them. They are almost as big of a rip off as the over-priced tuition.

Anonymous said...

this is my first year of college. I bought books from a bookstore near the campus and sold them back and I got ripped off. I then bought my books from the school for spring semester. At the end of this semester I plan to sell them all online to get more money, and I will also buy online! I feel so stupid, but I am glad I figured this out early.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Why college textbooks are a rip off

My freshman year of college, I believe I spent about $500 on college text books. Looking back, it was a foolish mistake, but I didn't know better at the time.

My first mistake was that I assumed that when a class said a text was required, they meant it. This turned out to be not true. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't. Second, I bought books too late and there were no used ones left. Third, I didn't check the internet to compare prices.

Really, I think the college textbook industry is a huge rip off. If you've ever taken a class that recently switched from, say, edition 5 to edition 6, you may have noticed that the differences in the editions was primarily in the problem sets. Some texts may have major updates, but for the most part, the facts stay the same. Often times, the problems aren't even completely different, just altered in a minor way. How frustrating.

Not all professors played the game. One professor said that a text was required, but we could get any standard text relating to Control Systems we wanted. He pointed us to Amazon. He taught primarily from his lecture notes (and a text wasn't truly necessary), saving me about $100 that semester.

Also, why are we only given the option of hardcover texts? My boyfriend insists he loves hardcovers because they last longer (whatever). Shouldn't I have the option to easily purchase softcover to save some money? I did a semester in Hong Kong, and their book store didn't contain a single hardcover text for class. Not only that, but many of the students didn't buy the text anyway, as the professor often scanned the necessary material for the students. While that may violate some sort of copyright laws, not offering the softcover versions to US students seems unfair. In fact, I brought the two texts I bought (for a reasonable price!) in Hong Kong and sold them on Amazon in the US. I probably made a small profit, even though I priced them lower than the similar hardcover versions. Abebooks.com often offers softcover "international" versions of college texts. I used one from there for one of my graduate classes last semester.

At the end of the semester, the college bookstore offers to buy back your textbooks from you. This is another rip off. They try to tell you that buying and selling your books through the book store is "good for the college" because they donate money to various student groups. I'd much rather that they offer me a fair price for my books! If I can sell it for $70 on Amazon, and the bookstore will sell it for $90 in the store next fall, why on earth would I give it to them for $45?

I would speculate that this scam of the textbook industry trickles down to high school and elementary school, but since the books are provided for "free" (with tax money), people aren't as aware of it. I went to a private school and we had to buy our own textbooks. Rather than the bookstore running a scam to make profits off of used books, each family would put an envelop with a price inside the book they were offering to sell. The students formed a big line (I think you got a place according to a raffle number) and you would pick the books you wanted to buy. You'd pay the amount listed on the envelope, which was later given to the parent. Unless a class was switching editions, you could come out about even every year.

In later years of college, you could sometimes do a similar thing with classmates a semester ahead of you. These days, with facebook and other social networking sites hooking up buyers and sellers more easily, I wonder if anyone still shops at the bookstore.

2 comments:

Nivek said...

I hardly open my books and can still pull down A's. I keep buying them thinking that this time, I'll actually need them. They are almost as big of a rip off as the over-priced tuition.


Anonymous said...

this is my first year of college. I bought books from a bookstore near the campus and sold them back and I got ripped off. I then bought my books from the school for spring semester. At the end of this semester I plan to sell them all online to get more money, and I will also buy online! I feel so stupid, but I am glad I figured this out early.