It’s that magical time of year, when the bright, shining faces of college freshmen fall as they take their first look at modern textbook prices. Reader S., a manager at a college bookstore, read our post yesterday about custom college bookstore “packets” used to prevent students from purchasing their textbooks used. He sent us some tips about how to spot and avoid special profit-seeking textbook bundles, and how to actually save some money by…purchasing from the college bookstore?
Students who prefer to shop for textbooks online are encountering a hitch in their efforts. University and College courses are increasingly using bundled versions of textbooks that come with their own ISBN number. School book stores sell the packets as a single item, because their contents don’t come itemized.
This story is a little old, but was just brought to our attention this weekend. Elsevier, which is sort of the Death Star of academic publishing, was caught offering $25 Amazon gift cards to professors who gave the book five-star reviews on Amazon.
Abel’s Copies is standing by their strict “No Refunds” policy even after ordering the wrong course packet for reader David. The workers at the off-campus bookstore near the University of Texas at Austin insisted there was only one instructor for David’s course and that they couldn’t order a new course packet unless David paid in advance. When David got home, he realized that Abel’s sold him the wrong packet. He called the store and learned that Abel’s had the right packet in stock for $25 less than he paid—but Abel’s refused to issue a refund…
Don’t order textbooks from Indoo.com if you need them right away, because they’re a little casual with their shipping. Joe ordered two textbooks on September 5th. Four days later on September 9th, they sent him an email saying they’d been shipped via USPS Priority mail. They hadn’t arrived by the 16th, so Joe emailed to ask what was going on. They responded that actually the books had been shipped on September 11th via USPS Priority and that “the arrival expectation is 4 to 5 business days.” Joe received one of the two books yesterday, on September 17th, which would have been 5 business days after the 11th. Still no sign of the other book.
R. Preston McAfee, a Cal Tech economics professor, is annoyed at how overpriced textbooks are. “‘The person who pays for the book, the parent or the student, doesn’t choose it,’ he said. ‘There is this sort of creep. It’s always O.K. to add $5.'” To fight back, he’s foregone the potential six-figure advance traditional publishing would have granted, and published his textbook online for free.
When should you spend to save? [MSN Money] “Are warehouse store memberships a good deal? How about extended warranties? It all depends on the products — and on you, the shopper.”
The New York Times editorial board called on Congress to make college textbooks more affordable. The measure they endorsed wouldn’t do anything Soviet like directly cap prices, but it would require textbook makers to tell professors exactly how much books would cost impoverished students.
If you use Leopard on a Mac and plan on buying e-books, be very careful—according to the various complaints on this thread, Adobe’s Digital Editions still doesn’t work on Leopard, and yet most places selling Digital Editions e-books won’t warn you of this, leaving you with activated books you can’t return but also can’t read.
We know how much our readers hate expensive textbooks, so meet Andre Ditto, the 47 year-old vegan personal trainer who is going to run the NYC marathon carrying 30lbs of textbooks both to protest the high cost of college textbooks and as a promotion for ebook retailer CaféScribe.
The Harvard Crimson ran a story last week about a student who was asked to leave the premises for writing down the prices of six textbooks at the Coop, Harvard’s bookstore of record. The bookstore’s president says that there’s no official policy against students writing down information, but “we discourage people who are taking down a lot of notes.” But what’s more surprising, he tells the Crimson that the textbooks’ ISBNs—which can be used to look up the same books online—are “the Coop’s intellectual property.”
We always knew one of the biggest scams in college was the school bookstore, but we never realized that you could actually try borrowing textbooks from the library. The blogger behind The Baglady certainly did:
NPR takes a look at the growing popularity of “customized” college textbooks—textbooks that have pieces from different books sewn together, usually with a chapter or two by the professor teaching the class.
That first trip to the college bookstore for textbooks is a transformative, and possibly scarring, event–for many people, it may be the first time you really understand the phrase “sticker shock.” But today’s students at least have some alternatives, the most popular of which (based on reader comments, articles, and personal recommendations) is abebooks.com. Our cousin, a junior this year, writes, “One book I’m buying this semester is 70 on Amazon, but like 25 or 35 on Abe.”
Ron Hammond, Phd, professor at Utah Valley State College, has quit using textbooks in his classes. Why? They’re too expensive.
It’s campus book buy-back time which means one thing: tons of students getting screwed over across the nation.