campus bookstores- forced monopoly?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Alex, Aug 20, 2003.

  1. Alex

    Alex New Member

    Am taking an online course for fun in fall 2003 at a state university in the South. In attempting to purchase the needed textbook(s), I ran into an interesting phenomenon. The required textbook list is not posted on-line anywhere. I phoned the campus bookstore, and they refused to release the name of the textbooks. They will sell the books to you, but you won't know what you're getting until you receive the order!

    Has anyone run into this practice before?- it is new to me.

    (The department said that only the instructor would have the information, but at this point it is not clear who the instructor is!)

  2. sshuang

    sshuang New Member

    If they don't even know what books the instructor will use, how do they sell the books to you?
  3. Han

    Han New Member

    It is required on most outlines of the course. My employer does not reikmburse, unless it is on their syllabus, so you may want to call the professor and get it early for that reason.

    My State University, after you state which class it is, has online ordering, you can go through all the steps to see what the book it, then cancel before the credit card info is needed.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2003
  4. Homer

    Homer New Member

    Originally posted by Alex
    .....Has anyone run into this practice before?

    Not this precise practice......but close.

    I've taken courses where, invariably, one of the required texts was a 3-ring binder of material compiled by faculty members. The things were far too expensive for what they were (average of about $55 for a buttload of photocopies in a cheap binder) and there was really no way one could complete the course without purchasing one.

    But hey, that's one place that won't be getting any more business from me.
  5. roy maybery

    roy maybery New Member

    No such antics with Sheffield Hallam University. They send the primary readings 'a thick bound tome of photocopies' as part of the course at no extra charge. They are also up front with the book list in their course description.

    Roy Maybery
  6. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    I ran into the same thing at one of the schools I attended. The bookstore didn't even keep the texts on shelves, they were hidden in the back room and you only got to see them after you forked over the cash or credit card.

    A few years later, the bookstore was gutted by a 3-alarm fire. My wife & co-workers were all wondering why I was walking around the next day, humming contentedly to myself. :D
  7. oko

    oko New Member

    In a major school in Boston, where I did a post baccalaureate certificate through B & M program in the mid 90s, textbooks were frequently unknown and they often include pricey "required and must buy" binders from the bookstore which were basically photocopies of journal articles. I have always thought then and still do now that we were needlessly squeezed out of our hard earned dollars not to mention the prohibitively tuition fees by schools in Massachusetts.

  8. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    I had a similar experience once. This practice began to be discontinued when people began to make inquiries as to whether all copyright laws had been followed in compiling these collections of journal articles. In the end I believe they discovered it is easier (though not always better education) to employ real textbooks.

    As to the original posters predicament, I would suggest contacting the department head. Not only will that person know which instructor will lead the course, they will have access to any syllabi where texts would be listed.
  9. Michaelmail

    Michaelmail New Member

    Not always what it seems...

    Good day from Vancouver, Canada

    As a manager of a college store, and one that is involved in distance materials, as well, the tone of this thread is blaming stores, when not all stores keep info out of students' hands.

    At my school, I practice transparency.
    At the school mentioned at the top of this thread, obviously something is amiss in the customer service area.

    At my school, a student in distance can either opt in or opt out of the textbook, so that they can choose to shop in the store (perhaps for used copies) or obtain one from a colleague, or shop on-line. This is offering choice. But most students choose to just have the 'pizza box' sent to them, as in choosing distance learning, they also may not want to deal with the textbook shopping, as it is just more hassle than it is worth.

    But even in my school, one cannot opt-out of the course modules, anymore than we can at CSU/Hux. These are prepared and intended to be part of the 'course', and are propreitary. Now, how sophisticated these may or may not be 'is' debatable. So, the learning modules are still sent to the student, and are not retailed in the store. They are really an analog to a series of in-class handouts.

    Eg: the materials from Hux, for the courses I've taken, are (at least, physically) dreadful, and the concept of updating seems to be missing! The typos alone almost prompted me to quit. But, at least there is no surcharge for them. And at HUX, one can get the book titles, and there is not a forced need to order via HUX. But the study guide is going to be sent to one, automatically.

    But making one purchase textbooks that can be sourced elsewhere is not great. I ran into this when I took the Athabasca MBA, as I was 'forced' to take the textbooks from them, as the books and materials are not costed out separately. So the trouble for them to try to 'rebate' that portion was not going to happen, even when the identical textbooks were sitting on a shelf in my store, six feet from my office.

    So, you have my vote for choice, if the textbook is a separate line item. But if it's an all or nothing, built-in to the tuition, then it's not worth the hassle of trying to opt out.

    You know, those of us in the college store business, generally speaking, tire of being characterized as being gougers, and holding students captive. I hope this is not the usual way of doing business in college stores. Many students simply never buy a book, rely on libraries, steal fellow students' books, get by on their own wits by paying attention in class, or take the low road by illegally photocopying books. You could say, they have a choice!

    Textbooks are tools, but the public generally does not see them as such, but rather see them as an expense, and, yes, they are expensive. But 'expensive' is not the same as 'over-priced'. $100 spent on a quality textbook is a good deal, but $10.00 spent on a poor book is not a good deal, as price should not be the biggest qualifying factor for anytime we purchase a tool.

    So, good luck with the textbook issue. But don't mix it up as solely a bookstore issue, when it appears to me that it is a bigger issue at that school. We're all not trying to separate you from your wallet - some of us actually try to dissuade you from making hasty textbook decisions. The approach, to my view, is dependent on whether the bookseller sees their operation as being a critical element of the educational process, or just a place to buy gum and t-shirts. Well, I think the educational materials are the reason we're here, not the ancillary products. (Come to think of it, that may very well make me an anomaly.)

    With thanks

    Michael in Vancouver
  10. ternahan

    ternahan New Member

    I am also in HUX and I would agree with the quality of the handouts. They are revised infrequently. Apparently in the HUX program all things are "timeless". Ternahan
  11. wfready

    wfready New Member

    I seem to remember someone complaining on this board about being forced to buy from the school (maybe Fort Hayes? I don't remember).

    Troy State doesn't do it; however, I have had instructors tell the class that something on the syllabus was not correct. I am waiting for the instructor to tell me in one of my courses that the book has changed AFTER I buy the book. :eek:

    Embry Riddle does not do this, but you have to watch out because they will charge you books with out telling you. Granted I should of asked the lady the total before I gave her a credit my credit card (I would of told her to stop when she said a total 110 bucks higher than tuition). With that said, if I did NOT buy the book from her. I am not sure if she would of given me the ISBN (maybe she would of). Just trying to say it didn't leave a good taste in my mouth.


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