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  1. #1
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    What would a professor say to this?

    The system is really built against you. Professors inform students of which textbooks are required for the class upon the first day of the semester. The bookstore always has the books for sale, of course, but at premium. They trap you because you only have about a week to return textbooks. What if I emailed the professors of hte classes I am due to begin in spring 09, asking them which textbooks will be required for the class? This would allow me to have a few extra days to shop around for the lowest price, and avoid waiting in the bookstore line.

    Now this makes sense on a financial level, but is it considered appropriate or in any way awkward?
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  2. #2
    some new kind of kick Suttree's Avatar
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    No--the professor shouldn't care one way or the other where you get the book.
    There isn't some direct collusion between the prof and the bookstore--unless of course
    it is a book he or she published then the prof stands to make royalties off every new sale.

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    +1

    What I hate is when a new edition comes out, and the old edition won't be bought back. However, with my CS textbooks, I keep them for good references and refuse to sell them.

  4. #4
    Villainous huerro's Avatar
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    Do it. The professor won't mind. Does your school use Blackboard? If so, it may already be posted.

  5. #5
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlts22 View Post
    +1

    What I hate is when a new edition comes out, and the old edition won't be bought back. However, with my CS textbooks, I keep them for good references and refuse to sell them.
    Tell me about it. I was able to sell back just one of my textbooks this semester for this very reason, making for a net end-of-semester buyback revenue of $2.50

    I donated the textbooks I wont use again to some cause for African Children, and kept my economics book as reference.
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  6. #6
    in need of sunshine
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    The prof may even think you care about his class and score some brownie points.
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  7. #7
    No plan. peabodypride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2 View Post
    The system is really built against you. Professors inform students of which textbooks are required for the class upon the first day of the semester. The bookstore always has the books for sale, of course, but at premium. They trap you because you only have about a week to return textbooks. What if I emailed the professors of hte classes I am due to begin in spring 09, asking them which textbooks will be required for the class? This would allow me to have a few extra days to shop around for the lowest price, and avoid waiting in the bookstore line.

    Now this makes sense on a financial level, but is it considered appropriate or in any way awkward?
    In general, you'll probably have 3 types of professors.

    1. Those who really don't care/are indifferent. They probably have a book list already saved, ready to be yanked/put into emails. The indifference factor goes down as major specialized classes increase.

    2. Those who are glad you emailed them and will be happy to tell you.

    3. Those professors who think you are a worthless waste of time, and will either tell you, with poor grammar and all lower case, "go look on the bookstore website," or just ignore you. This tends to happen in lecture classes or very high-up in a major with egotistical profs.


    But unless you stand to get butthurt by the small probability of a professor telling you to go away, you'll be fine. Most profs hate the bookstore as well and will tell you to look elsewhere, I find.

  8. #8
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    I email my profs asking what books I'll need so I can have time to buy them online (cheaper) and they are always happy to let me know.
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  9. #9
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Hold on, let me ask.

    Edit: My dad grumbles and sends them the book list.

  10. #10
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    I thought I've read this somewhere before...
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
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  11. #11
    But on the road more MTBLover's Avatar
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    I'm always happy to tell my students what books are required for my courses, and yes, I suggest possible online sources that will be (usually) cheaper than the U's bookstore. From conversations I've had on this subject with my colleagues, it's clear that I'm hardly in the minority.

  12. #12
    surly old man jgedwa's Avatar
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    Since my campus bookstore sometimes has a markup of over 200%, I actively encourage my students to order it somewhere else.

    About asking professors things: generally the worst response you will get is silence. So, go ahead and ask.

    I can tell you what books I will be using this Spring, if that would be helpful.

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  13. #13
    Free Velo Vol! Velo Vol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peabodypride View Post
    In general, you'll probably have 3 types of professors.

    3. Those professors who think you are a worthless waste of time, and will either tell you, with poor grammar and all lower case, "go look on the bookstore website," or just ignore you. This tends to happen in lecture classes or very high-up in a major with egotistical profs.
    I had little, if any, experience with this type of professor. Perhaps their more common in elite institutions?

  14. #14
    riding once again jschen's Avatar
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    As hopefully a future professor, I promise not to assign my own book unless it's directly relevant and a leading choice for the topic on hand. If students think I'm assigning my own book for the money, they've clearly lost it. If I wanted money, I wouldn't "waste" my time with teaching them when I could be making more money elsewhere.
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  15. #15
    I... Don't care. nekohime's Avatar
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    I usually don't have to ask the professor because the campus textbook site has it waaaaaaaay early and I can find out and order it online elsewhere waaaay before the semester starts. But generally professors are happy to help you with this sort of thing, just ask.
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  16. #16
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    All you need is an abacus and a dictionary.
    "harder" is not a very good safeword.

  17. #17
    It's easy being green. recumelectric's Avatar
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    Recently, I've found professors to be quite willing to lower the cost of books as much as possible. I've been given the book name, and told where to find it in paperback and/or used.

    ....With the price of f***ing tuition, it's the least that they could do.
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  18. #18
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschen View Post
    If students think I'm assigning my own book for the money, they've clearly lost it. If I wanted money, I wouldn't "waste" my time with teaching them when I could be making more money elsewhere.
    +1

    With few exceptions, there is very little money writing for the academic market. I can't speak for all situations, but in my limited experience (2 books with different publishers), royalties were based on a percentage of list price rather than a percentage of price charged.

    In any case, students will buy the books from cheap sources, get them used, or borrow them from a library if they can. Trying to thwart that inevitability just appears (and is) petty.

  19. #19
    Barbieri Telefonico huhenio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by huerro View Post
    Do it. The professor won't mind. Does your school use Blackboard? If so, it may already be posted.
    Blackboard was a great tool ... saved the professors a bunch of time.
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  20. #20
    GATC
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    100% appropriate. Get the list, and buy them at half.com or wherever.

  21. #21
    50000 Guatts of power 127.0.0.1's Avatar
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    it shows initiative
    and that you don't sit on your butt doing nothing...hoping to have everything ready

    you need those proactive skills in real world
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  22. #22
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Blackboard can be useful. But in my experience, here is the rub: If all parties aren't signed up to use it, it's worthless. My history prof never used it, Comp I wasn't turned on until halfway through the semester.

    As far as the books go, that can be tricky as well. My Intro to Psych prof taught the same level course at two different campuses (same community college) using the same author/publisher. But they were different books. The one used in my class at my campus was a special edition that included a reference/study guide that the other class at the other campus didn't get.

    But textbooks are like Barney, the dinosaur that just won't take the hint and die. Between PowerPoint, the internet, and I would are argue something like Kindle/Sony reader, my back would be a lot happier. If we do away with the textbooks in their current form, maybe, hopefully, wishfully we can get rid of those damned wheeled bags that are effing everywhere.
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  23. #23
    L T X B O M P F A N S R apricissimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaiju-velo View Post
    No--the professor shouldn't care one way or the other where you get the book.
    There isn't some direct collusion between the prof and the bookstore--unless of course
    it is a book he or she published then the prof stands to make royalties off every new sale.
    Not between the prof and the bookstore (not usually, anyway), but a lot of college bookstores have contracts with the school they service that says they have exclusive rights to the book lists. So, for example, a professor can't tell another store which books to carry for his class.

    Individual students do go to professors the get info on books, and I've never seen anyone make a fuss about that, even at bookstores with exclusive contracts (I worked in two of them for seven years). If a group of students did that en masse, that might be a different story. And publicizing those lists would certainly cause a reaction from the school.
    Last edited by apricissimus; 12-31-08 at 09:07 AM.

  24. #24
    L T X B O M P F A N S R apricissimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgedwa View Post
    Since my campus bookstore sometimes has a markup of over 200%, I actively encourage my students to order it somewhere else.
    This is almost certainly untrue. And actually, retail margins on textbooks are typically much lower than other retail items (on the order of 20% for new text books--a bit higher for used). The reason why textbooks are so expensive are the costs from the publisher. I used to work in a college bookstore, and now work for a textbook publisher.

  25. #25
    No plan. peabodypride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Vol View Post
    I had little, if any, experience with this type of professor. Perhaps their more common in elite institutions?
    Well, I go to a state-supported (but still private) school, I get it once in awhile but not too often. I usually just end up dropping their class.

    Quote Originally Posted by huhenio View Post
    Blackboard was a great tool ... saved the professors a bunch of time.
    Blackboard is a terribly designed, terribly implemented, terribly coded piece of trash.

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