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So what kind of racket is going on?

  1. Jul 1, 2004 #1
    College textbooks are costing 120 bucks new, and since most campus bookstores seem to be taken over by E-Follet, the used ones sell for 90-100 dollars, sometimes as low as 80 for really old math textbooks.

    So far, I've gotten 2 textbooks from foreign countries (two different foreign countries might I add) with express shipping and they end up costing half the price of the new books (even with international shipping)! The books I have received are brand new, shiny, without any damage.

    I have also been purchasing international softcover editions, which in some cases are black and white instead of color, in other cases they are full color, but are half the price of a new book as well.

    My girlfriend mentioned that the USA prints and sells books to foreign countries at a lower rate than they sell them here. I'm assuming that E-Follet can get away with what they do by the ignorance of students, and by the sheer amount of money being given away by state governments (in the form of taxpayer's funds) to college tuition. It really seems that E-Follet is almost being subsidized through education funding.

    Not only are the new books expensive here, but a new edition comes out every 2-3 years with hardly anything significant being changed, and the teachers pull problems out of the book for mandatory homework, requiring students to buy the new edition with renumbered problems or problems with slightly different conditions.

    How much does it take to publish a college textbook anyway? I just know that there are executives of E-Follet running around with ferraris and porsches...kind of like how I imagine the record label guys.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2004 #2


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    Have you tried half.com? They have really good prices for college books. What I do is go onto e-follet, find the books I need and order them off half.com.
  4. Jul 1, 2004 #3
    I guess it is called "making big bucks". Higher Education is skyrocketing vastly in the US, even at state landgrant institutions, so everyone must get used to enormous upsurges in costs. Textbooks are just one component of that overall cost inflation.

    In contrast, printing and publishing locally and producing high quality material is very available (much more so than in the past). But not too many academic departments want to get into this. Sometimes this means text contents only approximate actual course contents at a distance, with compromises along the way.

    I guess the old academic-publication complex is alive and well.
  5. Jul 1, 2004 #4
    Yes, I've been using both amazon and half.com for used books, and finding the best seller from those two interfaces.
  6. Jul 1, 2004 #5
    I find the situation you describe, aeroegner, to be more than a little bit disturbing. When I was in college in the 1970s our books weren't any more expensive than books of comparable length and quality in general.

    I have never heard of E-Follet, but it sounds like they have somehow established a monopoly. Odd and unpleasant.
  7. Jul 1, 2004 #6


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    the costs of college will price many of our children right out of the opportunity, thus creating a bigger gap between the rich and poor.
  8. Jul 1, 2004 #7
    Actually, anyone who really wants to go to college can get in, somewhere. Grants and loans. The process of getting in is actually much harder on people in the middle who can swing some, but not all of the cost. They end up not quaifying for alot of the grants and loans that people who can't pay at all qualify for.
  9. Jul 1, 2004 #8


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    I don't know what E-Follet is, being some number of years beyond having to buy textbooks. When I was in college, there were actually several bookstores, one on each campus of the university, and then another downtown that was privately owned, so you could shop around and find the used books in best condition or for the lowest price. $120 sounds outrageous for a textbook! I couldn't imagine them being worth more than $60 or $70 new. Then again, when I was in college, some students would also resell their used textbooks directly by placing fliers up in the dorms...they got more back than what the bookstore would give them (often as little as 10 or 15% of the original price), and the buyer still got a better deal than buying the used book from the bookstore (talk about a mark-up!).

    That's actually a real problem for those who are borderline able to afford college. Too often, you can get tuition and possibly room and board paid, but then there's the cost of all those books that often isn't covered. When I was in college, there was one student in our dorm who used to have to try to get copies of the books at the library or rely on the mercy of people who would loan her textbooks (an upperclassman who had taken the class the previous year and wanted to keep the book, but didn't need it right away) because she truly couldn't afford to buy the books. I think she wound up dropping out or landed on academic probation...it's tough to study when you don't own the books.
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