OMG Textbook Scams!

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by me again, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    OMG the price of textbooks is outrageous, even on the internet! I used to could buy $100 textbooks used for 2 or 3 dollars, but it appears that the textbook industry has reached its ugly claws onto the internet now. Unfreakingbelievable...
  2. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I still get them used for a few bucks. Abe Books is a beast. I once got an entire degree program's worth of books for $87.

    That said, I find it repugnant that online rentals are going for such high prices. No electronic textbook should be as expensive as some of the prices I've seen.
  3. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Feast your eyes on this: 9780761908944
    $62 new
    $52 used
    $42 rental 180 days 9780761917656
    $40 new
    $25 used
    $27 rental 180 days

    The "textbook rental conspiracy" is fully imbedded in the internet now. There was a time when I paid 2 or 3 dollars for used textbooks, but those days appear to be over.
  4. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    $27 and $42 ($42 especially) is not good, but I recall seeing some rentals in excess of $90 and I almost blew my top. The physical books I got from Abe were bought recently; I found out the degree plan and textbook list for a program I was interested in learning but wanted to do it on my own, so I searched for the books on Abe and hit the jackpot. My only problem with Abe is its customer service, but other than that it was pretty smooth.
  5. Sauron

    Sauron New Member


    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    My experience with Capella University that most of the textbook or class materials are written by their adjuncts or professors. And they are mandatory to have such material, otherwise you'll loose track.

    I like Nova Southeastern University a lot, as for the Doctorate level; there is no textbook, but only using textbook as optional for references. I remembered one of the professors stated that textbooks are garbage. Peer reviewed materials are the only good source for Doctorate study.
  7. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    My own guess is that these are the death thoes of the textbook industry. Much like newspapers.
  8. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    That would be really nice, but the problem is they do kickback deals with many of the schools, who, so I'm told, often force professors to use textbooks that are crappy, inaccurate, or outdated (brand new editions with outdated information.) A few professors have fought back by producing their own materials and selling them very inexpensively... though I've heard of professors doing the opposite, charging $200 for a photocopied text of 200 pages that is required reading.

    There is a movement toward open source scholarly journals and textbooks, and my understanding is that movement is slowly taking hold in a number of academic circles.

    But the other thing I've heard is, $87 is a steal for many textbooks today. One of my friends recently paid $220 for a *used* copy of a textbook for some class... and it wasn't some obscure specialty class either, it was either econ or psych or something pretty basic at the undergrad level. I don't understand why there hasn't been legal action for gouging or price fixing.
  9. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    I just paid $200 for one *used* book for one class starting Monday. It's friggin outrageous. But, i'm sure it's essential to my learning. <heavy sarcasm>
  10. mattbrent

    mattbrent Active Member

    I was super excited to be chosen for a VCCS grant in the spring to develop an Open Resource course for HIS 101 - Western Civilization. I'm piloting it starting Monday. Just to compare, the previous textbook was $260. Now it's $0. And guess which class has the highest enrollment? You betcha! It's my HIS 101 course. I'm going to be working on turning HIS 102 into OER for the spring, with a goal of turning my US Government course sequence, PLS 211-212 into OER for next year. Then again, this semester might crash and burn, though I hope it doesn't!

  11. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Unfortunately I have no problem believing this is true. I've also imagined more private deals between Professors (if you require my book then I'll require yours).
  12. Shawn Ambrose

    Shawn Ambrose New Member

    I can tell you that at my university, we have been told that under no circumstances can we mention getting books other than the University Bookstore. If the question comes up about getting books elsewhere, we are instructed to say, "In order to ensure you receive the correct materials, you should purchase your books at the University Bookstore."

    And yes, the price is outrageous...:cussing:
  13. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Yes - and good for them. About 10 years ago, I had an economics prof. who told us we didn't really need the "required" textbook. If we learned and applied what was in the extensive course notes (prepared by her - $8 at the Uni. bookstore) we'd do fine. I'd already bought the text, but I took her advice anyway. I don't remember even opening the text. I worked at the course - as the prof. suggested - wrote the exams and turned in papers - and did fine. Good advice, terrific teacher - and I was able to pass the text on to someone else, later.

    BTW - I remember once - about 25 years ago, when college fees were cheaper - I paid more for a required Abnormal Psych. textbook than I did for the course tuition! That wasn't abnormal - it was just plain crackers! :sad:

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2013
  14. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    And some schools have bucked that trend. I remember quite a few complaints here and in other degree-fora about 5 years back, when Aspen U. made mandatory a $100 course-notes package for each course. I think it was in their MBA program - and added about $1,200 to the effective cost of the degree. I'm not positive, but they may have discontinued the practice, uh...acceding to popular demand.

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2013
  15. ryoder

    ryoder New Member

    I paid 150 for the lamest excuse for a book ever. It is "The Qualitative Research Experience" and is just a collection of overviews of journal articles. It is flimsy and boring to read. There is no primary writer, just an editor. The book is full of feminist propaganda as well.
  16. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    Universities are also involve in this scam. They pick the most expensive texts, then pretend the texts are customized. The txts can only be purchase at the specific universities bookstore, then poor students are stuck with useless expensive texts.
  17. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    I wonder how that doesn't fall under some form of price fixing? I suppose that *technically* students have the opportunity to purchase books elsewhere, but if all the professors are encouraging them to purchase at the bookstore, how many (particularly at undergrad, where many don't yet know enough to realize they're being scammed) are just going to do as told?

    When I was at Oberlin, there was a "co-op" bookstore, which had been there for 30+ years and was co-op mostly in name. It was, truly, a cooperative, but the people in power almost never let the members have any of the power they really had, and the bookstore sold all the books at full retail (claiming there wasn't enough margin to offer discounts, which was baloney.)

    The powers-that-be made a series of godawful terrible decisions, first to pay some overpriced and incompetent consultants to do a study to justify building a new building that was about 2-1/2 times the size, and justified that sales would increase enough to pay for it. Then, when that turned out not to be the case (big surprise), they opened a coffeeshop in part of the space... because coffeeshops always make a ton of money, particularly when there are 3 others in a town of 8,000. And then, when that failed, they hired yet *another* consultant who convinced them that they needed to spend $70,000 that they didn't have on a point-of-sale system to figure out what was and wasn't selling (which was unnecessary, since they were running 40% under sales predictions from the previous consultant... so the problem was overall sales, not mix of sales.) The last consultant's brilliant advice doomed the co-op, and the college bought it out of bankruptcy, then sold it to Barnes and Noble... who, as far as I know, still runs it today, and still charges full list price.

    The whole textbook system is a disgrace.
  18. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Do you all comply with these instructions?
  19. mattbrent

    mattbrent Active Member

    We're supposed to do the same thing at my school. Fortunately, the students are smart enough to ask around the question and get the information they need.

  20. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    The university that I teach at is now starting to self-publish their own textbooks, which completely eliminates the fat middleman and the entire fat textbook industry. They are using in-house subject matter experts (us) to write them.

    That is completely bypassing the fatman's conspiratorial textbook industry. It will be interesting to see if it's done more and more in the near future, especially in online colleges and universities.

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