College textbooks

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan Wright, Jun 24, 2002.

  1. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    I'm currently taking some classes online to further my pedigree. (OK, my employer is paying for it with the promise of a big fat raise when I finish, otherwise I wouldn't bother)

    Is it just me, or is the whole textbook thing a total scam? I've taken three classes thus far (they are five weeks each) and am starting my fourth & fifth classes in a couple of weeks. A recurring theme here has been hundred dollar books that are impossible to find elsewhere. In other words, nobody has them. Not Amazon. Not Barnes & Noble. Not even eBay. Only the college seems able to get ahold of them, and of course, they have none that are used.

    Then, when I go to sell my books back, they claim they have too many used ones and won't buy them. Yet if I call, posing as a customer, they claim they have no used books and they're very sorry but I'll have to buy new.

    What gives?

    I know I should be thankful that my employer is paying the $410 per credit and I only have to buy the books - really, I am - but it still seems like a big fat scam. If I consider the pay difference I'll get when finished, the extra dough in a single check will pay for all the damn books and then some, so I know I should quit my complaining, but still, I just can't help it.

    Is this subject worthy of discussion, or am I alone here?
     
  2. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Total rip-off. Buy the book, head over to your local copy shop, spend a half hour and $25 to copy the book, then return it.
    I refused to spend $100+ on an Effing book. Period!
    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  3. KyleS

    KyleS Screenwriter

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    Ryan I couldnt agree with you more and you are certainly not alone.
    During my entire college time I didnt get the chance to sell one book back and when there was used books they were in terrible shape. I remember paying about $140 dollars for books when I took Chemistry 221 and they were supposed to last through Chem 222, & 223 with the exception of lab books. Well each DAMN year they changed books and it was the same old BS dont worry that you paid $100+ for your book it will last you through the whole time. [​IMG]
    Also notice as you did that the used books were rare to find, if you did find them they were within $10 of the new books, and when they did buy books back they gave you from 5-10% of what the book cost.
    KyleS
     
  4. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    Books are incredibly expensive, yes! I easily spent $4000 on books alone during my college education. It does seem like a big scam, especially when editions change so much you can't sell them back. Or when you do, you get so little money back its almost better to just keep the book.
    But, you can get books at other places though they tend not to be much cheaper. I've found that Hastings, Borders, and Barnes & Noble's has them (both online and in the stores).
    Here's a link to BN's online college textbook section:
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/textbo...rid=19TIESD65V
    www.varsitybooks.com is also a good one, though its been a while since I've ordered from them.
    Here's Amazon's text books section, and you can even take advantage of their free shipping deal!
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...397661-8073737
    All in all, I've ordered some books online and some books I picked up at independent textbooks stores around campus. I realize you're taking your classes online so that doesn't really help.
     
  5. Peter Kim

    Peter Kim Screenwriter

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    No you're not. I don't know exactly how cozy the teacher/publisher relationship is, but it is friendly. Growing up with a father who is a college professor, I saw firsthand how there is a system in place.

    Namely, the so-called revisions that occur very frequently, rendering the current version 'obsolete' the moment your class finishes. Then, in your attempt to sell the books back, the value has plummeted as a result of its expired status.

    And I suspect that the publishers cut a volume discount/deal with the universities in order to establish some sort of exclusivity. A steady stream for the publisher...a cost savings for the university.

    All the while, the students get it up the ass. I admire those institutions that 'rent' textbooks for a relatively nominal fee - at the end of the term, the books are returned and reused.

    Ryan, who are you trying to sell the books back to? The publisher or the school? I don't think the vast majority of publishers deal in used books...that essentially would cannibalize their current, main revenue stream. And of course, the universities don't want a book that won't be used again, as a result of the 'umpteenth revisiono' scam.

    Really pissed me off during my undergraduate years...buy a new textbook for $70 +, only to sell it back to the school for $8 - $12.
     
  6. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I always found it pretty frustrating, too, although I tended to keep the old books as references - and, surprisingly enough, I still see a book I used in 1993 on the shelves at the local computer bookstore.

    I had to grumble as I bought them, though - something along the lines of "this book is half as thick and three times the cost of a new Tom Clancy hardcover, AND CLANCY HAD TO MAKE ALL HIS STUFF UP!"
     
  7. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    Yes, it's a scam. Have you had to purchase any that cost over $1 per page? I had two of those during my academic career...
     
  8. Jonathan Smith

    Jonathan Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    I have determined that being a college bookstore would be a great business to own. I always hung on to all pretty much all of my engineering books, but this past semester when I graduated, I went to sell back my psychology book. I went one day, and she said it was worth $27 (this book was I think a $110 book), but if I waited until next week (official buy back period), it would go up. I went back the next week, still $27, but it would go up since the official buyback didn't start until xyz day. Went back that day, and it was now worth $17. WTF?
    When I donate money to Georgia Tech, there will be a stipulation that not one cent goes to auxiliary services [​IMG]
     
  9. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I wouldn't call it a scam, but it can be frustrating. I've got my share of $100 books that I never opened. But I've also got some books that have been worth their weight in gold.

    My understanding is that: college textbooks are very expensive to print, sell in very limited numbers, and don't really make that much money for the author. That is, most people do not write a textbook for the money -- they write it for the prestige (which can subsequently lead to money).

    I'd be interested in hearing from anyone with firsthand knowledge of the costs of publishing these books. I'm pretty sure that for most books, especially the niche, technical volumes, the net hourly rate (time to rate / money made) is pretty low.

    Ron-P -- your suggestion is illegal, and is against forum rules to discuss.
     
  10. Robert_Gaither

    Robert_Gaither Screenwriter

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    Actually doesn't your local college have cork boards that people post things such as they're selling their old books etc? This is what I did for most of my texts and got about a healthy 50-75% of what I paid for them (except for the ones that got discontinued).
     
  11. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    DaveF I can see your point how the cost of production for a book that will only be purchased by literally a handful of people would be legitimantly high but you've got to admit a new edition almost every semester seems like a waste. It's silly to make them so expensive and hardcovered since so many get thrown away not more than a year later.

    This is one of the reasons a paperless society sounds so good.
     
  12. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

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    I haven't really had the problem of something being useless only a year later-usually I've found that there are two or three years between editions. Most of the time though, edition changes are relatively superficial, and you should be able to get away with the previous one (which should be quite cheap by that point). Also, I found that a good strategy was to wait until at least the second week of class to buy the book (to see if it was worthwile) and to look at the reserve copy in the library (or visit the prof's office to get a look at his copy) to see if it's worth investing in. I skipped a few books this way, and saved a few bucks.

    Thankfully, the further you get in your education, the more specialized your courses get, until textbooks just don't exist. I think in my last Undergraduate year, I had to buy one textbook-the rest of the courses were exclusively prof. notes, since there wasn't a book that covered all of the course material.
     
  13. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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  14. Brian Kleinke

    Brian Kleinke Supporting Actor

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    Book prices also vary by the field. Hard Sciences and Physics tend to be the most spendy. You can usually find Humanities books cheaper.

    I got my degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science and bought my share of spendy books, but over all I didn't think it was that terrible. When I looked at how much some of my friends spent I felt bad for em.

    Brian
     
  15. Julian Reville

    Julian Reville Screenwriter

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    I remember my Chemistry classes at UGA: the classes just happened to be taught by the guy who wrote the textbook AND the workbook AND the laboratory book. Funny coincidence, that.
     
  16. KyleS

    KyleS Screenwriter

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  17. Chris Bardon

    Chris Bardon Cinematographer

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  18. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I'm afraid it is a scam. They always tell you to get the newest edition of the book too. I think back to those days and the fact that I would use the book a handful of times then it became bantha poodoo after that.
     

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