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Old 01-23-08, 06:00 PM   #1
phantomcow2
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What reason is there for textbook costs?

130 bucks for a lousy softcover book on Macroeconomics?! That's what I paid today. Now this is my second time doing this, and I've fine tuned the strategy:
Buy the book, read/photocopy the first 1-2 weeks of reading for said class (all assignments on syllabus).
Buy copy of the book through some online, cheaper source.
Return book right away. The UNH book store gives until Monday to do any returns, less than a week.

But really, this book isn't beautiful. It's soft cover, 415 pages, with paper size the same as regular printer paper. Is there any reason for these books to be so expensive? The only one I can think of is that it feels good to fiscally **** students. I managed to buy a brand new copy for 80 dollars shipped on eBay at least; 50 more dollars invested.
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Old 01-23-08, 06:05 PM   #2
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It's a scam because the students "have" to buy the book. Every college kid has gone through this scam. There is not much you can do.

I did find toward the end of grad school that I could find text books online for less than half the price they wanted in college book store. Check out half.com, Abe's books, of course amazon, etc..
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Old 01-23-08, 06:06 PM   #3
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And does anything actually change when a new edition is released? For example, the book I had to buy for macroeconomics was on it's 10 edition. Now I can find the 9th edition for 20 bucks! The professor really makes it clear that it *has* to be the newest edition, but I wonder if anything really changes. I bought the 2nd most recent edition of a textbook last year, and I ended up doing pretty well on that test.
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Old 01-23-08, 06:09 PM   #4
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Yea, I bought one book on amazon.com used, and one on eBay. I'm glad I found this out in my freshmen year. I was supposed to buy 4 books for English, I ended up buying only 2 of them. Two of those books were used ONCE. So, 50 bucks per assignment. In fact, one of them was only "read this chapter", never again. This makes me wonder if the University requires faculty to make use a few specific text books, and that the university receives kickbacks from Prentice Hall. I ended up getting an A in English...
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Old 01-23-08, 06:09 PM   #5
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And does anything actually change when a new edition is released? For example, the book I had to buy for macroeconomics was on it's 10 edition. Now I can find the 9th edition for 20 bucks! The professor really makes it clear that it *has* to be the newest edition, but I wonder if anything really changes. I bought the 2nd most recent edition of a textbook last year, and I ended up doing pretty well on that test.
Often changes are minor. See your prof after class and ask why it *has* to be new edition. Often its just because the questions for homework are different. If its just something like that, you can photo copy those from somebody who has the new edition. I went through a few classes with older edition of textbook and never had an issue.
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Old 01-23-08, 06:09 PM   #6
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The only books i ever bought, where for classes i was actually interested in, and kept. Geomatics, mechanics of deformable solids, fluid mechanics/hydraulics, geotechnical engg.

I dont think one of those books was less than $150, but well worth it.

Most of the time, my class notes were good enough to study for exams, and if not, the library usually had copies for 2 hour in library use only.. failing that, friends usually had books.
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Old 01-23-08, 06:11 PM   #7
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This makes me wonder if the University requires faculty to make use a few specific text books, and that the university receives kickbacks from Prentice Hall. I ended up getting an A in English...
Students have been wondering this since before either of us were born.
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Old 01-23-08, 06:13 PM   #8
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And does anything actually change when a new edition is released?
I've used books that were 2-3 editions out of date, and pretty much all the time, every question at the end of the chapter was the exact same number. Only difference it seemed was the nice shiny modern picture on the cover
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Old 01-23-08, 06:33 PM   #9
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Well, all of my classes are lecture. This means that there is no homework like questions to be answered at the end of every chapter. It's "Read this chapter and come to class ready to discuss". For Calculus, I expect to have to buy the 120 dollar book + CD, because it's a lot of problems right from the book. But Psychology, Political science, macroeconomics? Well it's like I said, I'm glad I am learning these tricks as just a freshman. I'll be 100% loan free this year, but I expect to take out a fairly chunky loan for the next 2 years to finance my education. My investments are finally going to be liquid by senior year, so realistically I am borrowing against 2.5 years of college. Using the information I've obtained this year, looks like books will not be something I need to borrow for.
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Old 01-23-08, 07:08 PM   #10
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And does anything actually change when a new edition is released? For example, the book I had to buy for macroeconomics was on it's 10 edition. Now I can find the 9th edition for 20 bucks! The professor really makes it clear that it *has* to be the newest edition, but I wonder if anything really changes. I bought the 2nd most recent edition of a textbook last year, and I ended up doing pretty well on that test.
Probably won't be a problem until you try to sell it back to the book store (who wants to keep a Psych 101 book?).

Usually they'll give you like 50% (more or less depending) or something of the original cost. With an old edition, you get zip.

I've paid over a $100 for books and have gotten offered $10-15 back, but in those cases I'll usually keep the book.

Buy your books online from a reputable source. I've thought about the photocopying thing but that'd be a lot of work, also you run into copyright issues and things get messy, especially if the professor in the author.
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Old 01-23-08, 07:19 PM   #11
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It's just a money pit to get students (normally) because they change editions every year or two, they need to charge high prices to make back the money on doing a fresh print, but I assume they do new editions every year or two to force students to buy more books...
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Old 01-23-08, 07:49 PM   #12
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...what did you think capitalism was? (USA lol)
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Old 01-23-08, 07:57 PM   #13
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High quality books do not necessarily cost an arm and a leg. My prof's most used books will never see a second edition (there may be additional volumes over time, though) and yet continue to sell at as rapid a pace as ever. Yes, students could in principle buy an old copy, but most people choose to keep their copy rather than sell it because it's a great book to have around.

Actually, staring at my bookcase just now, most of my great textbooks and reference books had pretty well spaced revisions. (For advanced texts in active fields, I think a revision every five years or so is very reasonable, and I'm even considering replacing some of them with newer editions.) And on average, they weren't any more expensive than my lesser textbooks.

On the other hand, I have paid an arm and a leg for some pretty lousy textbooks...
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Old 01-23-08, 07:59 PM   #14
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It has been thirty years since I was in college but I have wondered why students don't use CD's or DVD's now, instead of books.

It would seem to be cheaper to produce and to update.

Maybe there is an industry here. Hmmmmmmm.
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Old 01-23-08, 08:04 PM   #15
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See if the professor will put a copy on reserve at the library. I taught university classes for several years. Except for desk copies, there is no kickback that I can see. The thing is that the textbook companies make it increasingly difficult to order older, used editions. If you are a textbook author, however, you want to change the edition as often as possible. It can be quite a cash cow.

I used to do course packets (photocopies), as most of the good stuff is in articles not books. The IP laws that they enforce now can make a photocopied course pack cost several hundred dollars and students can't even sell it back. It really is a stupid system.
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Old 01-23-08, 08:06 PM   #16
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It has been thirty years since I was in college but I have wondered why students don't use CD's or DVD's now, instead of books.
Some newer textbooks come with CD supplements. The thing is, though, I've learned in grad school that the way one interacts with information on screen just isn't the same as the way one interacts with printed information. Just as I will no longer do final edits of an important document on screen, I refuse to study on a subject that I truly care about on screen. It will always be print for me (for the really important stuff, anyway), even when I have access to big enough a screen to see side by side pages.

Maybe for other people, this isn't an issue. But for me, there will always be a place for hard copies. Heck... for final edits of REALLY important stuff, I even insist on single-sided hard copies now so that I'm not distracted by page flipping or having trouble seeing the big picture if something's spanning the front and back of a page.
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Old 01-23-08, 08:54 PM   #17
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See if the professor will put a copy on reserve at the library. I taught university classes for several years. Except for desk copies, there is no kickback that I can see. The thing is that the textbook companies make it increasingly difficult to order older, used editions. If you are a textbook author, however, you want to change the edition as often as possible. It can be quite a cash cow.

I used to do course packets (photocopies), as most of the good stuff is in articles not books. The IP laws that they enforce now can make a photocopied course pack cost several hundred dollars and students can't even sell it back. It really is a stupid system.
You can blame the publishing industry lobbyist for being such a cash-cow.
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Old 01-23-08, 08:59 PM   #18
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True about not being able to sell back the books if they're an old edition. The book I had for political science was excerpts from essays. 800 pages probably pages and the retail was 60 bucks, I think that's decent. I kept this book so I can quote from it and appear more studious than I am.
If the bookstore buys the book back for 50%, then my macroeconomics book will have cost me 15 bucks -- not bad. I guess we'll see at the end of the semester. I may keep future science books for reference
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Old 01-23-08, 09:13 PM   #19
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True about not being able to sell back the books if they're an old edition. The book I had for political science was excerpts from essays. 800 pages probably pages and the retail was 60 bucks, I think that's decent. I kept this book so I can quote from it and appear more studious than I am.
If the bookstore buys the book back for 50%, then my macroeconomics book will have cost me 15 bucks -- not bad. I guess we'll see at the end of the semester. I may keep future science books for reference
Ohhhh and sometimes, you'll buy the newest edition, then you when you go to sell it back at the end of the semester, a new edition came out and they're not buying anything back! Total rip off

I remember one year, I bought the wrong book, went to return it the next day, but forgot my credit card, went home to get it, walked back in the pouring rain with the book in my book bag, it got a little wet, not even wet, moist, said the book couldn't be returned cause it wasn't in NEW condition, but they'd buy it back for a fraction of the price. I almost lost it...

Most book stores are owned by corporations (although they look like they aren't), if you're gonna buy a book at a bookstore, find a school owned or a independent book store. Makes getting raped just a little easier cause some money is going back into the community.
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Old 01-23-08, 10:00 PM   #20
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I paid $145 for my Italian book, granted it will get used a lot. How many people here have got the ever famous "Sorry we are no longer buying that book back due to them having so many."
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Old 01-23-08, 10:17 PM   #21
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Does anyone else find humor in the fact that the book is an economics book? Lesson #1: Demand. Create continued demand by holding college students hostage through the release of new editions with insignificant changes.
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Old 01-23-08, 10:23 PM   #22
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You don't have to go to college. If you don't agree with the system, don't support it.
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Old 01-23-08, 10:34 PM   #23
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I have a 1500$/year scholarship for all four years though, so it doesn't bother me much. Is till try and buy used and save as much money as possible so I can pocket the rest for bike parts at the end of this semester... or actually; now. Ha!
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Old 01-24-08, 10:54 AM   #24
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There are schools that rent you your textbooks for the semester. Eastern Illinois University is one of them. It's far, far cheaper than the buy/sell scheme that most places have. You can also buy your book from the university at the end of the semester if you want to keep it. Of course, if you destroy your book during the course of the semester, then you'll pay for it through the nose when it comes time to return them.
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Old 01-24-08, 10:58 AM   #25
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I keep my textbooks anyway from classes and not bother selling them, just for reference later on.
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