A textbook rant

Rather than a formulaic rant, this is actually about textbooks.
I’ve just returned from the University Co-op, where I was charged $70 for a fucking used hardcover textbook. What the hell? The only time I’ve paid money like that it was for new books. It’s not like I can go anywhere else, IRL, because the Co-op bought out its competitors. I notice the course isn’t offered in the fall semester, so I’m probably not going to get any money back for it at the end of the semester.
On a related note, why do people go nuts with highlighters in their textbooks? I know this is college and after the tyranny of high school we’re now free to mark our books any way we choose, but Jesus! I had book last semester where every other sentence was highlighted in two colors and underlined! Is it that hard to pick out important information?

This was my first Pit post. Kind of tame, I guess.

I hate the fucking price of textbooks. I go to night school at the local University and I have had classes where the books are more expensive than the course. WTF? Then, when I try to sell them back, they no longer offer that course, they are using a new book next semester, or some other damn reason why I have to keep this book I will probably never open again. I am saving all those books they force me to keep so I can drop them all on the library steps after I graduate.

Just a suggestion . . .

What I do for books is to go to the campus bookstore and get the ISBN numbers of the books I’ll need or want. Then I go to bestbookbuys.com (this isn’t advertising the place . . . it’s a free service) and search by isbn. Then you get a list of places that sell the book. Most of them are substantially cheaper than the bookstore. Sometimes doubly so.


You are my new best friend! Saved me ~$45 on the first book I looked up.

I’m in grad school at night as well, and was getting mighty sick of being sodomized by textbook costs. Course, my damn school usually doesn’t know what book we will need until the day before class starts so I guess I’ll have to pay O.N. shipping.


jk: glad you liked the site:-)

Bookstore price for my social psych book: $60+
Price I paid online: $20

Now, obviously some books are not going to come this cheap, but most are not going to cost you what the bookstore is charging.

Oh sure, now they have these things. When I was in college, as an enginerding student, I don’t think I had a single quarter where I spent less than $200 for books, and most were $300 quarters.

As for selling them back, <p’shaw!> I was offered $25-30 for book I had bought new 10 weeks before for $90-110.

I actually kept all but 3 books from college. Most are good reference matterial, but some I just couldn’t justify the need for $20 over the disparity in what I paid. Like it was still worth something…maybe I was just pissed off, I don’t know.

It’s bullshit, though, when the prof has you buy books that are only available new, then aren’t even used again the next quarter so you don’t even have the option to sell them. It’s a racket, I tell you.

It’s not the bookstore, it’s the publisher. I worked as a buyer for a Follet store for about a year, and our new textbook markup was only 15-20%. Used, if we bought them back ourselves, was 35-40%. Not much, really. They’re not worth squat used, so they buyback and sell cheaper, and nobody’s going to take the time, with a line of 100 pissed-off students, to rate the highlighting quality.

Textbooks are expensive because there’s no volume. They come out with new editions every two or three years because the bookstores sell used books and the publishers don’t get a dime for them. It’s a nasty business, and the burnout rate for the textbook managers is incredible, because in most students’ eyes, it’s all their fault i.e. they’re buying $4.00 books and selling them for $75.00.

Be kind to your campus bookstore workers–chances are they’re working cheap in a high-stress job and taking a lot of flack the publishers and the corporate wonks deserve instead.

What’s worst than highlighting, even worse (IMO) than obscene textbook prices, are people who make notes in their textbooks. I’m not sure why this is, but people who do this are always morons, if their notes are anything to judge by. I recall reading Grendel, by John Gardener. Whatever lightweight had read the book before me had noticed that there were twelve chapters in the book, and had therefore concluded that each chapter corresponded to a sign of the Zodiac, and then wrote exactly why s/he had decided each chapter should belong to which sign! Chapter 6: Aries, because there is a goat in it! Argh! At least I had the satisfaction of knowing she had failed that class, big time. (Only one prof. taught Grendel, and I knew him well enough to know he would have given this student the academic Finger

Sorry, here’s that closed paranthesis I left out of my last post: )

The fuckwit who had my last-semester lit textbook before me was a prolific notetaker. And s/he/it was a moron. Every word of more than two syllables had a definition inked in the margin. And this was a 200-level (our courses start in single-digits) college course!

I might have tolerated it, but his version of *one of my favorite poems in the universe* ended with

I could never read anything in the Frost section without having that idiot’s “to be sufficient” jump out at me like a dead nun in a snowbank. It ruined the gravity and the terseness and the…Jesus God, I hated this person and I’d never even met him. He was a moron. Did I mention that?

Here are the observations of a Professor.

The publishers give us the books. Many have representitives that come by every year and give us books that are related to our subject, and brochures of other books that they have that may be useful. If we express interest in a book, they have it sent to us. They NEVER let us know how much it costs. They don’t want us to know. They go to much trouble to keep us in the dark. If we ask , they try to change the subject. They want us to assign as many books as possible. Most of us that teach, have been teaching for a long enough time that our books we had to buy in college were much cheaper. (In my case, only six years ago, my “expensive” books were $45. Normal costs were $18.95 to $29.95. One paperback text I use is $50 now.) I always check out the price of my texts at the bookstore. But many instructors do not.

Hi Opal.

Excessive use of a highlighter is defeating the purpose. The idea is to highlight key passages so when you study later you can find them easily. Highlighting every other sentence makes it impossible to find key areas later. If you are highlighting more than one or two passages a page, then you haven’t a clue about what is really important in the text.

When I bought used books, I always made a point of checking them over. I never bought one that had been highlighted if at all possible. Or I bought the one that had been least highlighted. I also checked that all of the pages were there.

Having bought a book. It is Mine! I own it. I can do with it as I please. Write in it. Highlight in it. Tear out pages. etc. (I never used a highlighter. Hated them.)

Buyer Beware!

Heh. Heh, heh, heh. :smiley:

Many of my subjects just have subject readers, with pertinent articles photocopied (all legally, of course) all for $10-15. It’s so much better than paying $70 for a book that sometimes you never even end up using.

Yeah, buying college textbooks really sucks, the only thing that may be worse is selling them back at the end of the semester and getting jacked. Some of the prices they offer for your used books are ridiculous, and the rest are downright insulting. I wish my school was one of the ones where you can rent/borrow your books for the year.

I’ve had the bookstore sell me an old edition of a class text (brand new of course) and not tell me. The edition I had was fine for the class, but at the end of the semester I couldn’t sell it back (it cost me over $100). If it had been the more recent edition I could have sold it back. The worst thing about it was that it was a Psychology book for a class that had nothing to do with my major, so I had no desire at all to keep it.

At least this semester I’ll be registered early, and hopefully be able to get used texts for most of my classes. If I find out that I have friends in any of my classes, I don’t think I’ll even buy the text until I’m sure I need it.

By the way, as far as highlighting in used texts, I actaully prefer it. I think of it as less work for me. Yeah, if someone highlighted every other sentence or so it defeats the purpose, but if they took it easy and did a good job deciding what to highlight and what not to, it is a great help (at least for someone as lazy as me).