The argument over a textbook at Cal State Fullerton combines many different issues in academia: the cost of textbooks, deference to authority, and academic freedom. A math professor wants to do something really simple: use different textbooks from other faculty who teach the same course, because he thinks that a different pair of books is better. Those books also happen to cost less. However, the standard $180 textbook happens to have been written by the chair of the department. [More]
Once upon a time, most college students had very few choices when it came to the textbooks and other course materials they were required to buy each semester: Pricey new books or not-quite-as-pricey used copies, and most of these were gone quickly. But now there are multiple online competitors for buying, renting, and reselling these materials and a new survey shows that students are paying a lot less. [More]
We’ve been writing about textbook rental site Chegg since 2007, when it was a newly funded startup. Their business is very simple: they rent textbooks to students at the beginning of a semester and collect them at the end, saving students the hassle of selling the books as well as sparing them from the inevitable depreciation. Only now Chegg is leaving that business entirely and going digital. [More]
Our power-shopping colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports wondered: which of the used-textbook services have the best prices on popular course materials? You can usually get the best prices by bypassing the campus bookstore, but which of the many sites now available offer the best deals? [More]
For college students, it’s a wonderful thing to find a store willing to pay more than a pittance to buy back the textbooks you’ve been pretending to read all semester. People who discovered the Boston-based site Valore Books were happy with the estimates they got for the value of their books, but less happy when their checks failed to show up. [More]
Hearing that a man has been accused of stealing about $2.8 million in textbooks just conjures up the image of a bespectacled fellow, perched atop a huge pile of books, who peers over his glasses when interrupted in his reading of The Big Book Of Organic Chemistry: Super Impossible Edition and simply raises an eyebrow as if to say, “Why are you bothering me?” The reality is probably a lot more boring, and has the book salesman out of a job and facing serious federal charges. [More]
Now Amazon just seems to be toying with the retail book stores of America. The online behemoth has long been hated by many bricks-and-mortar booksellers for the hugely discounted prices it charges on books and other items traditionally sold in book stores. And then there’s Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader which some stores blame for dropping sales. Now Amazon is getting into one business still dominated by college book stores: textbook rentals.
Earlier this month, Tom ordered a microbiology textbook from the Amazon Marketplace. It arrived in the mail later that week, and everything was fine. Then he received another copy of the book the next day. Then a third, and a fourth. All of the books were identical, and his credit card was only charged for the first one. What was going on here? More importantly, what was he supposed to do with the extra textbooks?
Many students are familiar with the frustrating ritual at the end of any college term — selling back those costly textbooks, only to be handed back a fraction of the cash you originally paid. The “Textbook Rebellion” campaign is all about lowering that initial high price.
The New York Times Bucks Blog has a great feature on finding textbooks for less. There’s a great list of comparison sites in there. Don’t forget too the option of e-textbooks at sites like CafeScribe. Having all the text digitized not only makes it lighter and more portable, but you can easily CTRL-F if you’re trying to find a key phrase or concept.
Is your college’s semester a little longer than most? If you use the textbook rental service Chegg.com: that’s too bad. They need your books back now. Shawn reports that even though he needs his textbook until December 23rd, Chegg claims that they need it back by the 20th, or they’re going to charge him full price, even if he gets an extension. Is that company policy? Well…. no.
What’s worse than paying ridiculous prices for textbooks? Paying a slightly less ridiculous price for a textbook, then never receiving the book or the refund the company promises. In October, more than halfway through the semester, Emily was forced to request a chargeback for a book that she never received. She suspects that the company never mailed it at all, and they also never issued her a promised refund.
Billed as the first interactive, all-digital science textbook, Life on Earth will teach students about the birds, bees, flowers and trees — and do so for free.
The second half of summer is “complain about textbook prices” season, and last week the New York Times put together a special section on the topic and asked experts to weigh in. Too many of the contributors just provide an overview of the situation but no solutions; a publishing industry representative actually defends textbook prices as trivial compared to other educational costs. Fortunately Anya Kamenetz, who writes for Fast Company, suggests Flat World Knowledge. And to be fair, the guy who defended textbooks prices suggests CourseSmart for ebook rentals. The Times also asked students, professors and parents to weigh in with advice.
Consider buying textbooks for college students on your holiday buying list who are tough to shop for, helping them out by defraying an oppressing educational cost, the personal finance blog Poorer Than You advises.
If you’re going to school at a Florida state university, your fee burden just grew a little bit lighter: