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Monday, August 25, 2008

Just wondering...

...why professors perpetuate the textbook conspiracy. What's in it for them?

Yes, it's that time of year again and I'm trying to sell my books. Only... I've just realized that for some it pays to just toss them in the recycling bin. After shipping and ebay commission, I'd be lucky to make a dime off of them.

OK, I can understand why the companies put out new books every year. They have to make a living somehow. But I am really annoyed at the professors who insist on assigning the newest versions. Rarely is there a significant difference between editions, and some things can't possibly have changed (medieval history? math?!) Why force your struggling students to buy spanking new books at $60 - $120 apiece when they'll be lucky to sell it for ten bucks next semester? Plus, they only devalue so quickly because the next semester, they're assigning a still newer edition.

It's highway robbery. Is there any way to stop it?

... just wondering.


ProfK said...

As a professor I have the same complaint that you do. I no sooner get my copy of the text all marked up then another edition comes out. One of my classes is still using the 6th edition of the text although a 9th is coming out this year. Not enough difference to justify the cost and I'm trying to save my students some money.

A textbook rep explained that it is all the students' fault. Once an edition is in use for a while the answers to all the homework questions and quizzes in it become passed around thanks to the Internet, hence the need for new questions and quizzes. I just make up new questions myself and solve the problem for cheaper.

Besides recycling there are organizations that will accept your old textbooks, that send the books to developing countries who welcome them.

The Babysitter said...

Bas Melach: Yea, Textbooks are very expensive. By us you don't always have to get the new addition. Most professors are nice about it. There was actually one professor who was using an older edition than he recommended, so we all spent $200 on a book, when he was using the edition before.

There's also an international edition you can buy online which is cheaper. I did that for one book, the book was selling for $160 I got the book for $40. The only difference was that the pages were numbered differently and the examples were in different orders, but it contained the same material.

About selling books, I don't sell my books online. I keep all my books. The books for my major I keep because I feel I should have them since I might need them for reference later on. The other books I keep so that people can borrow it from me. Sometimes they buy it off me too. So this way both gain from the sale.

Prof K: about the issue of test banks, I didn't think of that as a reason why they would make you get the new edition. Even if there is a new edition, they will get the test bank for the new edition. Plus, since the material doesn't change so much, the test bank contains the same exact examples, just with different numbers. SO if you use excell, then you can figure out the formula for one based on the answer and way to do it, then you just plug in the different numbers, and you get your answer.

The first time when someone gave me a test bank to study for the final, I felt like it was cheating. But then everyone assured me it wasn't. It does make life so much easier.

One professor actually gave us a CD with the test bank on it, for us to study from. But it had a huge amount of questions, like 200 per chapter, so its not like you knew for sure which ones were on it, so it was still a lot to study.

Bas Melach: Also, if your going to buy expensive text books, might as well use a credit card with a good reward system, so at least you get something out of it.

Bas~Melech said...

ProfK -- Fine, so you're a considerate professor. But what motivates all the jerky ones?
Man, there is something verrrry low about that answer-sharing issue. People who want to cheat will do so no matter what. Putting out new textbooks every year is so not the answer.

Babysitter -- The example numbers can actually be the biggest issue. The one time when I tried that, it was way more headache than it was worth, having to decode all the assignments...
I keep the good books. After almost 3 years of college, that totals about four. And I would have kept them even if I'd bought the previous edition for $40 less. I don't see the point and I don't have the space to keep every math, history, and literature book.
Credit card rewards, even the best ones, are not enough to justify paying $150 for a book.

Yeah, yeah, I'm disgruntled. :-P

corner point said...

As I look at my list of FOURTEEN (count em!) textbooks for FIVE classes, I shake my head in open-mouthed disbelief. No new clothes for me this semester...

Mindy said...

Bas-Melech: throw a temper tantrum. Always works.

General comment: I LOVE keeping textbooks. (funnily enough, except stinking psychology ones which are SO not interesting anyway. Weird coming from a psychology major, huh?)

Anonymous said...

Most professors I've had were very reasonable about getting older editions...
Also I keep all my old textbook, I use them as bathroom material, especially the psychilogy ones, they're facinating, sorry Mindy.

Mikeinmidwood said...

The best way to make some money back is to got to stores and sell the books for cheaper than the store is selling them.

Bas~Melech said...

Um, Mike... that doesn't sound so legal. :-P

And Mindy -- Why would you major in psychology if you don't find it interesting? Granted, classes can be more dynamic than books, but the one time I actually bought the recommended psych book (which I've sold already ;-) ) it was quite good.

The Babysitter said...

Bas Melach: now that its back to school, I've come across so many sites showing ways to get cheap textbooks, or textbooks that are practically free.

Best Places to Save Money on Textbooks

Mindy 2 said...

Sporiadic and Bas Melech- you wanna hear something funny? Over here at Touro in Israel, the two books that I got (one of which I wont een need in the end since the class was canceled due to the other girl dropping out) are FASCINATING!!! I don't kno why the toehrs didnt't appeal to me beofre. It's not like I took so many psyche classes anyway.

And I do like psyche. It depends when and who teaches it, really. If the class goes too slow I go out of my mind. But oh well. I'm actually really enjoying class now at Touro. And I'm majorng in pysche because I am very detirmined to be a psychologist, for idealistic and fulfillment reasons.