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How Professors rip off students with high priced textbooks

By tovarichpeter follow tovarichpeter   2019 Dec 11, 11:28am 233 views   11 comments   watch   nsfw   quote   share    


https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/11/opinion/textbook-prices-college.html


As the semester ends, instructors at universities and community colleges around the country will begin placing their orders for next year’s textbooks. But not all professors will pay enough attention to something that students complain about: the outlandish prices of the books we assign. Having grown at many times the rate of inflation, the cost of a leading economics book can be over $250; a law school casebook plus supplement can cost $277. Adding to such prices is the dubious trend of requiring students to obtain digital access codes, averaging $100, to complete homework assignments.

Professors love tough questions. Here’s one we need ask ourselves: Are we helping rip off our students?

A good instructor wants to use the best materials, and some of the expensive textbooks are excellent and arguably worth the price. But some really aren’t, especially when there are cheaper or free alternatives of equal quality out there. Basic ethics suggest we have a duty to look for cheaper options before we inflict the $200 or $300 books or the $100 access codes on our students. Professors who write successful textbooks need to think harder about the professional ethics of allowing a book to be sold at exploitative prices to young people.
1   joshuatrio   ignore (0)   2019 Dec 11, 11:46am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Can you please post snippets from the article? You have some good content, but just throwing a link up is a pain in the ass.
2   Ceffer   ignore (4)   2019 Dec 11, 11:53am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Been going on forever. Professor writes book, becomes obligatory text for classes even if it is dreck. Happened at UC all the time in the day. It's the professor version of the political 'book deal'.

The TA's also sold crib sheets for what was going to be on the exams. Students were captive 'customers'.
3   WineHorror1   ignore (1)   2019 Dec 11, 12:24pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Did I read that right...the answer is either free books or a Netflix style system for books?

I thought free was for pussies.
4   theoakman   ignore (0)   2019 Dec 11, 12:47pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

The books I use for Physics were published in 1998. It's always been a scam.

When I was in graduate school, there was a BitTorrent file for both Physics and Chemistry. It was like 15 gigs worth of PDF files of textbooks. It was awesome.
5   tovarichpeter   ignore (2)   2019 Dec 11, 5:01pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Can you please post snippets from the article? You have some good content, but just throwing a link up is a pain in the ass.


Sorry about that
6   Booger   ignore (4)   2019 Dec 11, 7:13pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

This was also the case in the 1980's.

The college should bar this activity.
7   SunnyvaleCA   ignore (1)   2019 Dec 12, 12:37am     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

The most ridiculous part is that many of the books cover material that isn't any longer even in copywrite. I remember paying big $$$ for a Shakespeare book ... that book shouldn't be much more than the cost of printing: $5.
8   rd6B   ignore (1)   2019 Dec 12, 12:23pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

SunnyvaleCA says
The most ridiculous part is that many of the books cover material that isn't any longer even in copywrite. I remember paying big $$$ for a Shakespeare book ... that book shouldn't be much more than the cost of printing: $5.

Chemistry, physics, and math at basic level can be taught from books written in early 1970's. There is no reason to change editions once every two years, other than lining pockets of publishers.
I tell my students that they can use older editions of textbooks - those cost $10 on Amazon instead of $300. Most do, but some are apparently financial masochists and buy the newest one.
Also, most (>98%) faculty members do not benefit from expensive textbooks (unless they have written it). Schools do, as they are usually sold in university bookstores with 30% markup, part of which goes to school (in a sense, this is similar to company stores of 19th century, where goods are sold at higher price). They used to call me all the time and complain that my class does not buy textbooks there.
9   zzyzzx   ignore (2)   2019 Dec 12, 12:47pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

rd6B says
hey are usually sold in university bookstores with 30% markup,


Doesn't Amazon sell at least some of these books as well, at prices lower than the university bookstore?
10   rd6B   ignore (1)   2019 Dec 12, 12:50pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

zzyzzx says
Doesn't Amazon sell at least some of these books as well, at prices lower than the university bookstore?

They do, but they are still overpriced AND I believe it gets more complicated to put that bill against student loans
11   Shaman   ignore (2)   2019 Dec 12, 2:02pm     ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Ok so, from stories my wife tells, here’s how it typically goes.
Textbook publishers have reps who visit professors, sometimes bringing gifts, always asking their opinions on a book or what could be added or subtracted from it to suit the prof. The goal is to get their book on the class syllabus, have the instructor assign from it and require elements of it in the coursework. There’s also sometimes a lab or special project that requires software with a single use key that comes with a NEW book. This is a great method for getting the students to HAVE to buy the book from the publisher NEW because how else they gonna get that key for that project that’s 25% of their grade?

My wife recently swung her department over to an open resource book available online that costs nothing to students. It’s not as updated, from what I hear, but her students appreciate the price! And her content is self developed anyway so the book doesn’t matter much. I think they’re using some cheap software for the class project.

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