Aqua gets raped in the pocket book. Or Aqua's adventures at her college bookstore.

I just spent $398.26 on textbooks for this semester.

I have paid outrageous amounts of money on textbooks before but this is the largest chunk of change I have been forced to fork out.
Why is it that poor college students are forced to pay these large amounts for textbooks? It is beyond my reasoning that these books could cost so much to produce.

F’rinstance, I have one book here, it was the cheapest, only $44.55.

The crux of this biscuit folks, is that it is paperbound, and only 212 pages long! The subject matter isn’t all that scholarly, it is a book for a wretched career planning course that is required to graduate. As if one has absolutely no idea what in the seven frozen hells one is going to do when they graduate with a degree in NURSING!!!

And the other books aren’t much better.
I would have taken another class this semester so I could graduate early but I couldn’t fucking afford it because I spent too much on books.

Can any Doper here give a cognizant reason why books are so expensive? Perhaps you can get my blood pressure to come down.

If you can’t, share a story about how YOU paid through the nose all your college days so at least I don’t feel so alone and seriously pissed off.

Aqua :frowning:

A spokesman for the LSU bookstore blamed the high prices on how difficult it was for them to turn a profit.

Let’s see…you sell a product for $50, buy it back for $15, sell it again for $40, buy it for $15, repeat about four times.

You sell the same item for more than you pay for it four or five times and you can’t figure out how to turn a profit?

I spent $333.46 this semester for five classes. Nice thick books too. After cold cocking the cashier with one last week, he still hasn’t woken up.

Oh yeah…I just remembered. All my books aren’t in yet. I’m probably looking at $50 more.

Another interesting twist is some schools/courses utilize custom made textbooks for each semester, the professor will pick and choose which chapters to include, they are specially bound, and bookstores won’t buy them back at all, generally. And of course they are expensive.

I have a fairly extensive personal library, so for many classes that needed say, shakespeare or other classics, I’d bring my own.

All of the hefty, hardbound texts that I just had to buy, I’d buy used if I could, and then kept them. I figured they were going to rip me off, but only once. Just one of the things I hated about higher education.

College bookstores are one of the greatest scams on the planet (as shown effectively by Legomancer in the previous post).The worst college text scammer, however, was a chem prof at my college who required a gigantic and expensive textbook he had written for his classes. Every year he would rewrite some useless portion of the book, like the preface or some sidebar about “the wonders of chemistry in the modern world” and then release a new edition of the book with slightly different page numbering, rendering all previous editions obsolete. No used books were ever available for his class because he did this. It forced everybody to buy new books every year and also drove down the resale value of his books because the bookstores knew he was going to release a new edition. It was particularly galling when you saw him pull into the facutly parking lot in his vintage Jag. Every time I hear about the outrageous price of college books, I think of that bastard.

AquaPura, I’d really like to have more sympathy for you but since my biology text alone is almost as much as you paid for all of your books, I just don’t. Sorry. If it makes you feel better, my O-chem lab manual for last semester was $80.00. Not including tax.

(I mean, I do have sympathy for you but much more for us poor, struggling, science majors. :slight_smile: )

Another victim of the “buy my book or fail the class” scam here. I majored in history and every damn prof had written a book which was then included in the syllabus. The worst was for my class on the Protestant Reformation in which four of the professor’s books were required reading. That guy needed a few theses nailed to his ass…


Ah, just be glad you weren’t a Japanese major. All our textbooks were imported and very expensive. The class I took now uses a new, more expensive text at a mere $85. When I took that class, I thought my text was expensive at $45.

My university has an interesting policy. If a professor requires the use of a textbook that he has authored, he must refund his royalties directly to the students. The policy is strictly audited, and is intended to discourage professors from requiring their own books just to make a profit. It is not unusual to hear of a professor handing out cash payments of $3 to $20 directly to students, right in the classroom.

BTW, I recall sitting in the student union one day eating lunch during book buyback week near the end of the semester. A student sitting next to me said, “I just charged $400 of books, and turned them right back in to the book buyback, and walked away with $200 cash! We can party this weekend!” I assume his parents paid his university bills for him. But not for long, I suspect.

FTR, you have my pity (and I teach at a University! I don’t get any kickbacks from the textbook sales, though, so put the gun down and back away slowly!:wink: )

One semester (when I was a student, Lo! These many years ago…) I took a course on Buddhism, and there was a whole stack of required texts. I don’t recall what they cost, but it was a bundle!

However, one of the required books I managed to find used! Huzzah! New, it was like $20, but I got it for $5.95…

I chuckled about my good fortune all the way back to the dorm. Once there, I sat on my bed and persued my reading for the semester (I love books!). That’s when I noticed how I had been shafted by the university bookstore:

The Buddhism book that I had bought for $5.95… the original cover price on the paperback book was $1.75! I investigated further by looking inside the cover… it had been resold a second time for $2.95, a third time for $3.50, a fourth time for $4.75… and then I came along clumsily wiping the drool from my chin, and bought it for the $5.95 price on the sticker on the back cover!

Lean close my friends, and listen carefully: I learned more about life in 3 minutes of looking over the various prices on a paperback book about Buddhism than I learned during the entire course of my studies for my degree!

As I see it, there are times in life when you just have to bend over and take it… distasteful, yes, but unavoidable!
As a side note, TTT and I just finished writing an idioms dictionary, which will be published in a month and a half or so… and we had a discussion about whether or not we should require our students to buy it. It is arguably essential for a student of English to have such a dictionary… I mean, when they run into a sentence such as “The Vice-President wasn’t in the loop when the President decided to sell vials of anthrax to Iraq.” They will, inevitably, ask: “What does it mean ‘in the loop’?” It would be nice to simply say, “Look it up!”

Let’s run the math: we don’t know the price of the book yet (the publisher hasn’t told us!) but let’s assume that it’s $20… we get 7% of every sale, that’s $1.40. Divided two ways, that’s 70 cents (Hey! My Korean-made keyboard doesn’t have a ‘cents’ symbol! WTF??) each. OK, we each have 5 classes this semester with about 30 students in each one. That’s roughly 150 students, at 70 cents each… end result, if we make our book a required text, we each pocket $105! Woo Hoo!!! :smiley:

Astroboy and TTT lean back laughing in an evil fashion, sipping scotch and puffing on large white collar criminal sized cigars… then simultaneously say "Fuck it!"

We’re not gonna screw over 300 students (and if you think you’re broke, I dare you to try living on what the typical Korean college student has!) just so we can each make $105…

Now, if it were more along the lines of, say, $120… who knows?

So, we will tell our students about our dictionary, and maybe go so far as to recommend that they buy it… but will NOT make it required.

And Astrogirl, in the background, says, “Why not?” Her morals have been somewhat compromised by a dinner that included several bottles of beer and a bottle of soju… IE: she is nearly passed out on my bed…

[sup]I’m gonna make HER buy a copy, though![/sup]

Oh man I totally agree what crap they force on us. And just to make things worse, the lines stretch beyond compare. I remember some gawd aweful lines at UA in Tucson. My only revenge of late is that I’ve been refusing to buy books and will instead borrow them from the library or teacher, or mooch off my friends. I did that for everything except Latin. I mean here they want you to spend $70 buying Homer, Ovid and Sen Rikyu when the library has several copies of each, as does other public libraries. One of the blessings of being a History major.

now if you’ll excuse me I have to go think of happy thoughts to keep my bile down!

Don’t worry, no standard keyboard has the cents symbol. It’s stored in the Character map and you can either open that, cut and paste it, or press and hold down ALT and then type 0162 and this will happen ¢, enjoy

shakes fist at the university and leaves

See, what’s kinda sad, is that I spent $390 on books this semester, and I consider myself lucky, cause it wasn’t that much compared to previous semesters. That was for four books, btw.

I feel ashamed now to say this, but I only spent about 200 bucks this semester for six classes. I already had the most expensive one left over from a previous class, though, so that cut it back considerably.

However, it is nigh impossible to find cheap textbooks, either online or through bookswap webpages MSU students have set up, for my two majors, Microbiology and German. Micro isn’t a very popular major, and no place has used German books just lying around in the warehouse, waiting for me to snatch them up. So I have to go to student bookstores and get ripped off like a schmuck.

At my last go round through school, my book bills averaged $1,500 to $2,000 per year. Both the profs and the students did what they could to keep prices down (e.g. CanCopy authorized bulk photocopying rather than hard binding), but having current information was of such importance that we were stuck with big bills (and a rather large pile of texts).

For everything unimpressive about Eastern Illiois University, it had one thing going for it. You didn’t buy textbooks. Sure, I guess if you wanted to, you could buy them, but you didn’t have to. The university rented the books you to for a fee of about $50.00 per semester. Of course, every year the teachers wanted to abolish the system so they could have more flexibility with the texts, but the school kept it up. Personally, I think most of the teaching done should (and is) done via lecture and actual teaching and if you can’t teach a topic without a book that offers a detailed description on said topic, maybe you shouldn’t be teaching.

I don’t know if you’d save this way (and of course, too late now) but have you looked into buying textbooks via or whatever? When I started taking horticulture classes, I bought a few that way and while I didn’t save a mint, it was still money that I had, not the local college.

Obviously things haven’t changed much since my days at the institution. That unfortunately includes prices, since I routinely paid $300 - $400 a semester (and I agree, those in the hard sciences got royally reamed).

Of course, there are many more options than there were back in my day–I’ll recommend this site, from which you can often find spectacular deals (of course shipping from various retailers can add up, and time could be an issue, but still).

A few days ago, I spent nearly $700 on college books, and I’m not even sure I got all of them. Furthermore, used books seem to be all but impossible to find for my classes. I don’t think that the ones that come with CD-ROMS even get sold used at all.

A couple of my books were over $100 each.

Why? I can only make a few WAGs. Obviously, people are making money. They also have to be updated regularly, some classes more often than others. Smaller runs on the press - the latest Jackie Collins book is going to sell far better, and the more copies you produce, the cheaper each one is in the long run. A great deal of research has to go into each one. Pocket dictionaries aside, you’ll find that a lot of reference books do cost quite a bit. In some of my cases, the cost also includes a CD-ROM as well. The cost is probably also covering the either all or part of the cost of financing the staff at the college bookstore. And finally, they do because they can. How many places can you get these desperately needed books? And you really do need them.

Referring to Jinxie’s mooching comment
In case anyone cares, I also don’t like lending books to people who were too cheap to buy their own. I’m not rich. I’m a mother of four. Why should I be without my books just so you can go photocopy them? If you think the text is optional, go ahead and wrangle it with the library, or go without. I didn’t spend $700 so you don’t have to.

Welcome to the last seven years of my life.

Med school texts used to be outrageous, but the students finally got smart and got very efficient at swapping. They realized that they would sell a lot more books if they weren’t so ungodly expensive, so they became significantly cheaper.

Fortunately, I don’t have to buy many books this year–and it’s a hell of a thing. We have always had two main bookstores on campus, the UK Bookstore and Kennedy’s. The competition helped keep prices down, if you were willing to comparison shop. The company that owned UKB (Wallace’s) went bankrupt, and the UKB was bought–by the same company that owns Kennedy’s. Undergrad friends have told me that the screwing has in fact become total.

I don’t believe the university should have allowed this, and it could have stopped it (UKB leases space in the Student Center, and both stores sell official UK merchandise.) Anything I buy this year will be bought online.

Dr. J

This semester wasn’t so bad. Three books, $250. But in the spring, I got raped royally. I took only four classes, one of which was a two-hour class. That class had three texts: one supplement, one statute book, one casebook. Casebooks will run around $80 new and no one bats an eye. What galled me was the statute book. A little paperback book, of which we were going to use only the section on patents, and it cost $95. Kee-rist. And I shelled out this cash for only two hours of credit.

I have said it before, and I will say it again:

I’ve been using these guys to buy books for over a year now. I save every single time, whether it’s $5 or . . . well, $50. My Social Psychology book was $20 for me and about $80 for most other people.