Monday, August 25, 2008

The Text Book Scam: How publishers/colleges shake your pockets.

Anyone who has attended a college in the last few years has learned 3 basic things.
1- Your going to shit your brains out, or be unable to shit for weeks, due to campus food.
2- the toilet paper will most likely cut your ass, more than wiping with a pine cone.
3- Books at the campus store, and in general, are a rip off.

No way! Colleges and publishers, with the goal of educating the youth, would not needlessly be trying to gouge profits out of already struggling college students. That would be irresponsible! Yet, that is the cold hard truth. Each year it is estimated that American students spend $900 on books a year! That is in addition to the already outrageous price for education.
But why is it $900! Aren't there used books? While there are occasionally a few, there are 2 major problems with the used book system. 1, the bookstore that buys back used books, regardless of the flawless condition, rarely pays out 1/2 the original cost of the book. That makes it almost worthless to return, since you may at some point need it in the future. The 2nd is the fact that every few years there is a new edition that each professor wants to use, making the old editions aparently obsolete.

Wait a minute. How does that make any sense! A new edition of a book is generally the re-organization of the book to make it easier to understand, as well as correcting the countless grammatical, technical, and factual errors that were originally included. Thats strange, almost anything else you buy that is defective, you get a FULL REFUND for. If you bought a car that had incorrect fuel readings, and displayed the wrong speeds would be fixed at no cost to the consumer. However with Books, you are paying for the mistakes. In stead of being able to use your roomates book from last semester, with those dozen mistakes, and some awkward arrangement of details, you have to spend anywhere from $100-$200, for a simple book!
Currently I am taking Legal Environment in Business. The new book costs $197 online ($225 at the book store aparently). The old book (last years edition, in almost perfect condition) $47, with shipping and handling. How is that remotely fair, or legal!

I can understand the need to update books occasionally. After 5-10 years, facts and information may change. They need to be updated. However being updated in 01, 03, 05, 07 and 08? It seems a bit much don't you think?

So I said fuck the system. I explained to my professor that I would purchase the old copy, and just deal with the errors, and the sometimes strange organization. Sure, this will mean that all my homework assignments will have 1-2 questions from the wrong chapter, and be missing 1-2. But thats ok. If I get all the rest right I would still get a 90, which is an A.

So fuck the book business.

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