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Expensive Books Inspire P2P Textbook Downloads

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the psst-can-I-borrow-your-con-law-book-for-a-bit dept.

Education 511

jyosim writes "A site called Textbook Torrents is among the many sites popping up offering free downloads of expensive textbooks using BitTorrent or other peer-to-peer networks. With the average cost of textbooks going up every year, and with some books costing more than $100, some experts say that piracy will only increase." Having just completed graduate school, I can attest that quite a few books are in that more-than-$100 range, and that they're heavy besides. But the big-name textbook publishers are much less interested than I am in open textbooks, even if MIT has demonstrated that open courseware is feasible, and Stanford and other schools have put quite a bit of material on iTunes.

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Library of Alexandria (5, Funny)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#24019943)

I always wondered how the P2P/Napster thing would have turned out if it had been given a better, more descriptive name like: Library of Alexandria []

Re:Library of Alexandria (2, Insightful)

monxrtr (1105563) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020543)

In a way, political and legal earthquakes and mob burnings of free information sites are serving to strengthen the integrity and resiliency of a fast evolving Library of Alexandria, even if it is not yet labeled as such. One day such a data repository may also very well fit onto a key chain sized flash drive.

Dirty thieves (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24019951)

You are stealing from the pockets of the professors who change the text book every semester making your used book worthless.

Re:Dirty thieves (5, Interesting)

DanWS6 (1248650) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020133)

I only had one professor that required us to buy a book that he had written and it was actually one of the best text books I bought. The book was paper back so it was light and not a pain to carry, it cost $20 and it was actually relevant to the course.

I doubt he even made a profit on it, he seemed more interested in providing us a fairly inexpensive valuable learning tool. Too bad other professors couldn't be bothered.

Re:Dirty thieves (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020425)

I had a professor, sociology, that had written his own textbook. He printed it all out himself and did the cheap plastic ring binding. He would sell the texts out of the back of his car the first week of the semester.

He only charged what it cost him to put together plus a bit for labor. Four hundred page text for $25.

Re:Dirty thieves (5, Informative)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020501)

Academics often contribute to textbooks without being paid. I wrote a chapter for a textbook recently and am currently working on another, and I won't get any financial return for either - I consider it a part of my job. Having said that the books do turn out to be quite expensive, I put that down to the low numbers the publisher expects to sell.

Writers of very popular course books will get some return, but for most of us writing specialist texts this isn't the case.

Don't cheat the students! (5, Funny)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020513)

America gets a bad enough rap with the state of our education system today. Don't make it worse by leaving our students behind the rest of the world! Where would we be if our students didn't understand the latest developments in trigonometry or first-semester calculus? The changes in Newtonian physics from year to year alone are enough to keep a team of textbook writers employed around the clock.

Re:Dirty thieves (5, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020643)

There are very, very few academics that make any kind of living off of doing textbooks. Fewer still make the sort of per book royalty that you are assuming exists. It's usually more of a one-time payment. Professors aren't like John Grisham or Tom Clancy.

Changing editions every few years is something done by the publishers. I know, I used to work very closely with the local (independent) college bookstore. We would specifically try to get used copies of books that professors request, because it would be cheaper for students (and undercut the corporate-owned bookstore down the street), and only then resort to new. But, when a publisher changed the edition, the used market for that book would dry up. I don't know where all the old copies went, but usually we couldn't even find them.

Books too? (-1, Troll)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 6 years ago | (#24019953)

If you guys start stealing text books too just keep in mind that its the lthe little guys who will suffer like the unions who man the presses and the shmoos like me who are paid to put the book together.

Re:Books too? (1)

ducatier (669395) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020047)

"some books costing more than $100" What Utopia is that in? I was lucky to get a paper back book for $120.00.

Re:Books too? (1)

Noodlenose (537591) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020457)

My first anatomy atlas (4 books in total) cost 460$. That was 15 years ago.

Re:Books too? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020215)

You know, I feel bad for you, and I do think you are correct. Initially, more than anyone, the people who will feel the hit are the workers.

But seriously, if there is one thing that you should get for free after insane amounts of tuition, it should be the materials you need to attend those classes you already paid for.

Rip Rip Rip those books to PDF.

Re:Books too? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020241)

Well don't quit your... oh wait...

Re:Books too? (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020497)

Don't think so. The so-called "little guys" don't charge 100$+ for their books (or, if they do, they usually deserve being one of those).

Re:Books too? (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020505)

If you guys start stealing text books too just keep in mind that its the lthe little guys who will suffer like the unions who man the presses and the shmoos like me who are paid to put the book together.

Wow. Robots have actually unionized?

Students are suffering already (5, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020511)

No offense to you, but students are already suffering. We are routinely charged for books that are simply rearranged copies of older editions, just so that we cannot buy used copies (professors often assign problem sets from the book, and if the problems are in the wrong place and in the wrong order, or have modified details, it becomes impossible to do the homework). We are charged as much for the rearranged edition as if it were a book containing brand new material.

I'm sorry, I know your job depends on the publishers being able to rip us off, but most of us don't have jobs. I've been able to land decent summer jobs because of my skills and major, but the majority of my friends are either unemployed or will not make enough money this summer to completely cover the cost of their books. This expense is added to the price of tuition, which some of my friends can barely afford. If the new American dream is to go to college, get a degree, and make lots of money, these publishers are pushing more and more people out of that dream.

I'm not exaggerating, by the way. A lot of people have trouble coming up with the money for textbooks. A single $100+ book would be manageable, but when it is a matter of 6 or 7 such books every few months, it becomes a problem. It flies in the face of copyright law (pre-DMCA), but I can see why people would turn to torrents to get their textbooks.

About time! (5, Insightful)

Frizzle Fry (149026) | more than 6 years ago | (#24019959)

The problem isn't just that they are expensive, but that the publishers are trying to bilk the students. They include CD-ROMs they know are useless as an excuse to charge higher prices and they come out with a new "edition" every year that changes the page numbers and exercise numbers so that students can't rely on used textbooks.

They got too greedy and pushed too far and that is what will actually give people the motivation to push back.

Photographic and tactile memory (4, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020125)

When I was in school I found my recall was highly photographic and associative. I assume this is present to different degrees in most people.

When I recalled something in a book I would recall where on the page it was and what was around it. I'd recall how far I had to flip into the book roughly before i'd have to turn individual pages. Even the weight of the binding was memorable.

I found I could learn more from books that had heavy covers, and glossy pages for easy turing, layots that were generous not compact with lots of color and visual reminders.

Thus to me a pdf file of a book on the screen or a Kindle are just viscerally anti-cognative even though the information might be identical.

The visceral nature of a book in not replicated on laser printed and bound paper. It just does not flip right for me.

Re:Photographic and tactile memory (4, Insightful)

Frizzle Fry (149026) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020239)

You can print and bind a book at Kinkos or throw it in a three-ring binder for well under $100.

Re:Photographic and tactile memory (1)

rocketman768 (838734) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020305)

So, I don't suppose you remember how far you have to scroll down a webpage to find something? It's absurd to suggest you can only remember location of information when it's in book form.

Re:Photographic and tactile memory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020409)

When I was in school I found my recall was highly photographic and associative. I assume this is present to different degrees in most people.

When I recalled something in a book I would recall where on the page it was and what was around it. I'd recall how far I had to flip into the book roughly before i'd have to turn individual pages. Even the weight of the binding was memorable.

I found I could learn more from books that had heavy covers, and glossy pages for easy turing, layots that were generous not compact with lots of color and visual reminders.

Thus to me a pdf file of a book on the screen or a Kindle are just viscerally anti-cognative even though the information might be identical.

The visceral nature of a book in not replicated on laser printed and bound paper. It just does not flip right for me.

And you're not at all a shill of the publishing houses, oh noooo....

Tactile memory is not worth >$100. Publishers can go sodomize themselves with splintery sticks if they think I'm paying out that kind of cash on *one* textbook, let alone several.

Re:Photographic and tactile memory (0, Flamebait)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020549)

> Thus to me a pdf file of a book on the screen or a Kindle are just viscerally anti-cognative even though the information might be
> identical.

I find your comments viscerally pretentious. Please fuck off.

Re:Photographic and tactile memory (5, Insightful)

jhfry (829244) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020561)

Though I agree with you in practice, I think you fail to recognise that the same phenomonon can exist in digital media...

When I watch a video using my computer, I can very quickly find a segment of video by adjusting a slider, and I find that I am usually suprisingly accurate.

When I read a long webpage (mostly slashdot comments), and return to it later, I KNOW without a doubt that more comments have been added because something seems further down on the scroll bar than I remember.

The physical association can be translated to digital, especially if some thought is given to it. For example, what about a reader that applies a slight hue to the pages; eg as you get further into a chapter the pages become more red... I would bet that you could scan very quickly to a page with minimal practice. Add some sound whenever you change pages so that the tone changes depending upon how far into the file you are, maybe even include a visual "stack" that will show the ratio of pages before to pages after your current page.

With enough forms of reference, you will be able to train your mind to locate data in a file just as quickly as you do in a physical book. Then of course there is the clickable index, search functionality, table of figures (with thumbnails), etc... all this adds up to a book that is far more of a reference tool than paper books.

I don't want to sit and read a novel on a computer, or most ebook readers... but textbooks could be VERY powerful if implemented correctly. I am quite certain that the only reason that they haven't all gone digital yet is that the college crowd also happens to be one of the largest populations of copywrite violators and they know that they will only sell one or two copies of the book!

If I were them I would license text ebooks to the teacher/school instead of selling them to the students. For example, they 'sell' the ebook to the school to freely distribute to it's students, however for each student enrolled in a class that requires that text they must be paid $x. It would be relatively easy to prevent teachers from illegally using the text (offer a reward to students who report it) there is little incentive for the school/teacher to violate the license as they will simply pass the cost to the student as a fee, and finally the returns can be just as good as the license would only be good for that single class session.

It's only a matter of time... traditional publishing will die off eventually, it may take a generation or two, but it will happen.

Exactly. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020181)

Sad isn't it?

For 99% of the courses, 99.9% of the material will NOT change from year to year.

Yet the textbooks are re-released almost every year.

Now, the only downsides I see to having Free (as in Freedom) textbooks available in digital form are:

#1. The answers to the exercises WILL be available on-line. So? If the instructor cannot come up with his/her own exercises then s/he needs to find a new job.

#2. Printing on a laser printer is more expensive than in a print shop. But if students only print out the exercises, they save paper anyway.

Any others?

Re:Exactly. (5, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020303)

I must admit it will be easier to send a pdf rather than an actual book when I outsource getting my degree overseas.

Re:Exactly. (4, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020483)

Or the instructor could just not collect/correct homework as well as grade on tests. One of my favorite profs in college did just that. He would assign problems, but would never collect them. He could tell if you did them by how you did on the tests/quizzes which were always based on the same concepts he stressed in the homework assignments. The best side affect was that he would answer ANY question you had on your homework. You didn't have to play games like you had to with other profs/TAs who would say, "well, I can't tell you that, but what if you ask me this?" and would wind up wasting your time and theirs. All in an effort to not give you a hint which would allow you to answer the question without "earning" said answer. Of course what happened instead is all the students would simply do their homework in giant groups or just google for the problem(surprisingly effective)

Not to mention a huge part of the learning process is making mistakes when they don't cost very much. That is part of how I learn at least. By grading us both on homework and tests you are telling us its better to make sure you know how to game the system than it is to actually UNDERSTAND the material.

Re:About time! (4, Insightful)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020219)

Yet another industry's outdated business model falls victim to progress. Publishers and authors have a right to earn a living from their work, but so long as they're unfair about it people will subvert the system.

Textbooks are ideal for digital distribution - no shipping, no heavy books to carry, and they're seachable. They'll just have to drop the hefty, inflated pricing model. Sorry guys!

Publishing will go digital, kicking and screaming, but they'll go. Amazon knew this, why do you think they're pushing the Kindle so hard? As an avid reader I'm almost on board but not quite yet.

Re:About time! (4, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020443)

Kindle is not an accurate use for digital distribution. It's a big ole marketing hype. Kindle is akin to 1 step of a complete staircase.

Content control is not the solution, and the device is a piece of garbage. DRM and other problems [] left and right. People just like that it's cheaper than normal books. This not being kindle's fault but the publisher's own.

Wait until people create a double sided OLED bendable/foldable reader....then you're good. I'm sure its being developed as we speak, probably by MIT or CMU.

Once book prices go reasonable online (say 2-5 bucks a book at maximum), then things will sell like hotcakes and piracy will drop. For now, even e-books for some books [] are ridiculously priced.

Internet/computers have created their own market for pricings. Until pricing gets to a volume level instead of scarcity level, things will continue to be purchased illegitimately. I'm not going to trade a night of going out to the bars just to buy a textbook...but I will download it free [] instead.

Re:About time! (4, Insightful)

SputnikPanic (927985) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020287)

I'm of mixed minds about this. I support reasonable copyright laws -- "reasonable" being the operative word there -- and I object to piracy on general principle, but I have to say that the practices of some companies or industries are so egregious that I have a hard time mustering any sympathy for them. Textbook publishers are a case in point. New editions every other year, absurd prices ... it's really quite a racket. I remember one hydrology textbook that was about 200 pages and cost $70. I bought the book, copied every page at 10 cents per page, and returned the book the following day. Can't say that I was all that broken up about what I did. Seventy bucks for a 200 page book is ridiculous ... and that was more than 10 years ago. I can't imagine what that company is asking for a similar book today.

Re:About time! (1)

spirit of reason (989882) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020451)

Sometimes the CD-ROMs are useful, actually. Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach has a CD-ROM with a bunch of appendices that have good information, and the professors claimed this actually reduced the cost of the book--how much does it cost to press a CD for each book anyway? Pennies for each?

Re:About time! (1)

The Gaytriot (1254048) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020463)

Several times I purchased textbooks online which turned out to be an edition or two older than the current text required for my class. Maybe I was just lucky, but every time I did not notice substantial differences besides different pictures on the covers. Even the page numbers were the same except for one book, where after chapter seven I had to add three pages to whatever page the rest of the class was on. Was this trouble worth the average ~$90 I saved per book?


This next quarter I am actually looking for an older edition of a physics book because I can't find the current edition anywhere for less than $210 :(

I hated buying textbooks.. (2, Interesting)

DanWS6 (1248650) | more than 6 years ago | (#24019977)

I always tried to buy used books or buy from another student. It's quite a scam really, several courses I never even opened the book and passed the class successfully. Books are heavy, and it was a pain having to carry a bag full of them. I wouldn't have minded if they would've allowed a solution to buy a license to an e-book for the semester. Some of my classmates went so far to buy a book, scan every page and return it for a full refund before the cut off date. What a hassle.

Re:I hated buying textbooks.. (4, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020115)

Tricks of the Trade:

If the teacher hands out a syllabus with homework: take photos of every single homework problem. I had a good high res camera. Much faster than scanning. When it came time to do homework I just printed out the problem and did it. I got a $5 2 edition old book to actually use as reference.

Learn if the teacher actually hands out problems from the book, if not, get an edition 2-3 old.

Get an 'international' edition. Yes, those poor Chinese/Indians get cheap Microsoft products AND cheap books. Be careful, it won't be hard cover.

When returning books: Find the UPC of the "New" edition, slap it on your old edition and return it. Do it during the highest rush when the checkers in are just trying to get through everyone. I think I would net around $100 a semester buying $5 books and returning them for $30. Screw you book store.

Re:I hated buying textbooks.. (5, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020383)

A note on the 2nd trick. You have to be of greater than a certain intelligence. I used a Chem book 2-3 editions old for Chem I/II (It's freaking chemistry...). I couldn't use any of the "Turn to page XXXX" instructions. Homework never came from the book (there was no homework).

Worst case was they re arranged the chapters. Chapter 4: Reactions was now Chapter 14: Reactions. You have to be smart enough to know how to use a table of contents. I suggested this to my brother (freshmen last year) and it was lost on him. He broke down and ended up buying a book.

One more:
Buy from EARLY. Most large schools will post their required books before the end of the previous semester. Now is prime time to be shopping. You'll have them for the first day of school and know well ahead of time if they'll work.

Last resort:
For all my engineering books the Engineering Library kept 2 copies at all times that you could not check out. If you're waiting on a book or really want to kill time, you can live in the library to do your homework. If nothing else, just copy the problems out of it every few weeks and use your 'useless' copy as reference.

Finally, Engineers, keep your books. I wish I did. I can't name the times I've needed flow equations, thermo, controls, etc. Sure most of it is on wiki, but it's not in the format that you learned it. Unless you go straight into marketing or something, you're probably going to use something at least once.

Re:I hated buying textbooks.. (3, Informative)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020123)

It's my understanding that a lot of schools will contract out the buyback program at their school, and there's companies that travel around and buy the old books, presumably to sell at other smaller schools, online, etc.

Once I figured this out, I brought a bunch of my used, older textbooks back to my current school at the beginning of one semester to return. some of these being from another school in another country. since the buyback company's software had the isbn/book in its system, they gave me credit for the book. I came back the next day with a bunch of my wife's old textbooks, and some more of mine, and after one or two books came up not in their system, a supervisor came over and informed me that I couldn't just unload my old books onto them, despite their computer having accepted them, and despite the posters everywhere talking about "unload your old books...this week only..."

Re:I hated buying textbooks.. (2, Interesting)

The Gaytriot (1254048) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020565)

I've had the same thing happen several times. This last quarter I bought a book for an easy class which I anticipated not even having to open. I made sure to keep the plastic wrap on the book so I could get a refund at the end of the term.

It turns out I really never did have to open up that book, any relevant information was contained in the professor's power point slides which were posted online. However, I didn't read the 14-day return policy on the books.


It's about time (4, Interesting)

Lord_Frederick (642312) | more than 6 years ago | (#24019985)

The scam of requiring a new textbook every three years with the page numbers being the biggest change almost makes the music industry look like nice people.

Re:It's about time (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020127)

Most profs at my school (at least in the comp eng program) are nice about it and generally won't require a new textbook or any textbook at all (noticed this especially after the first year and a half of school) to perform the coursework, instead relying on assignments and course notes. I buy maybe at most 2 actual textbooks a term (out of a full course-load of 5 courses).

Also, our school has quite a lot of restrictions against professors using their own textbooks for courses, so that might have something to do with it.

Re:It's about time (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020553)

"Also, our school has quite a lot of restrictions against professors using their own textbooks for courses, so that might have something to do with it."

I might just transfer. I wish my school had those restrictions. I've heard professors actually brag about the royalties they are getting from the books they require in a the students in the course!

Why was that modded funny? (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020171)

No, really, why was the parent modded funny? It is true: textbook publishers routinely release "new editions" of books where only practice problems and page numbers have been changed, to try and force students to buy new books instead of used books. I've seen error that persist in edition after edition, or books where the problems themselves weren't even changed -- just the order and numbering of the problems. It is a disgrace, especially when professors go along with it (sometimes the professors are even collecting royalties from the books in question).

Re:It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020429)

Lecturers also write books and make them required reading. Nice scam, eh Fintan (

Super (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020003)

Just what we need, yet another 'industry' to harass us and call us names.

Prices (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020011)

Text book to me seem unfairly maligned for having a hefty price tag. I suppose it depends on your exact experience, but say a book costs around $100 and that students spend around $400-$500 per semester. I know plenty of people who complain about that, and then I see them spending $50 a night "going out" with their friends, or buying dinner with a date for close to $100. A DVD costs around $20 and lasts a few hours. How long would it take to read a text book and learn everything it has to offer? Years in most cases. If you don't think that sounds like fun, why are you at a university studying? If you go to a good school that has you buy good texts, and not 'keep up' every year with whatever new edition of Intro to Calculus it out, you are making an investment.

Re:Prices (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020169)

You're right, up to a point. But I think that most people here see it as a matter of principle. I, for one, didn't waste much money on partying w/ friends, etc. However, I balked at the outrageous book prices in college and grad. school, especially when I started to research things like highschool "bindings" on books, and how shoddily made many books are these days. Printing and binding costs simple aren't *that much*.

      Most of my professors were very careful about which books they chose. The best invariably lectured predominantly from their own notes, and if they required books, they were usually inexpensive Dover editions. If they assigned problems from the books, they often made up multiple problem sets when they realized that some students wanted to use older editions of the same books with slightly different page numbers or problem numberings.

Re:Prices (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020223)

All of the "alternative" expenses you are talking about are OPTIONAL
and are a matter of CHOICE. They are entered into by the relevant
parties of their own FREE WILL and not forced on them by artificial

If I want a good reference book for my profession I will seek those
out and don't need to be led by the nose by the University. The fact
that it might last me 80 years doesn't excuse the fact that students
are being raped on prices for content that may have not changed in
80 years.

This is just something else to drive higher education out of the
reach of the common man as if high inflation in tuition prices
wasn't high enough.

It used to be that $500 per semester was what you paid for tuition. It wasn't that long ago either.

Re:Prices (1)

b0bby (201198) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020363)

If you go to a good school that has you buy good texts, and not 'keep up' every year with whatever new edition of Intro to Calculus it out, you are making an investment.

I think it's the keeping up with the new edition of Intro to Calculus that pisses people off. Those $100 books are just as good when purchased secondhand for $20.

I support this (4, Insightful)

koan (80826) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020027)

After having to pay for a new algebra book (75$'s) because, apparently, algebra changed since last year and the teacher insisted I have the new book.
The majority of cost for me to go to a community college here in California is the books, and it is such a scam by the book companies, which also left me wondering "does the teacher get a kick back?"
Why would an algebra teacher insist on the latest book? Because his exercises are there so it makes it easy to correct? Why?
Who cares it's a rip off any way you look at it.
This is one example of information that should be free, or extremely cheap, at least when it comes to types of knowledge (math) that has not changed for centuries.

Re:I support this (4, Informative)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020173)

Some teachers get a kickback (esp. if they are the author of the book) but here in Florida a law just passed that prevents requiring a book that the teacher wrote, unless it is on a departmental level (as opposed to the course level)

Re:I support this (4, Interesting)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020193)

The majority of cost for me to go to a community college here in California is the books, and it is such a scam by the book companies, which also left me wondering "does the teacher get a kick back?"

Yes, teachers do get a kick back. One of my professors told our post grad class (during one of the much loved 'pub lectures') how they could stand to make $1000s from recommending the 'right' books.

Re:I support this (5, Informative)

wanerious (712877) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020435)

The majority of cost for me to go to a community college here in California is the books, and it is such a scam by the book companies, which also left me wondering "does the teacher get a kick back?"

Yes, teachers do get a kick back. One of my professors told our post grad class (during one of the much loved 'pub lectures') how they could stand to make $1000s from recommending the 'right' books.

I'm a physics/astronomy professor, and this is news to me. In fact, there is a state law (OK) that prevents us from receiving *any* financial incentive from textbook reps. In fact, it is even illegal for us to sell our evaluation copies. There are always unethical people on both sides of the street, I suppose.

Re:I support this (1)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020469)

I should have mentioned I went to university in NZ (which is very much based upon the British education system - for example our Head of Department, Dean of the School and Vice Chancellor were all British).

Re:I support this (1)

swthomas55 (904301) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020533)

Yes, teachers do get a kick back. One of my professors told our post grad class (during one of the much loved 'pub lectures') how they could stand to make $1000s from recommending the 'right' books.

I never got a kickback when I was a professor (what was I doing wrong?) Sometimes, I got a free copy of the book (Woo Hoo!) From my point of view as a prof, there would be 2 reasons to require the latest edition:

  1. (most important) The content has actually changed significantly, covering new material or improving coverage of old material. In a field like Computer Science, this is plausible. For a topic such as Algebra or Calculus, it seems implausible.
  2. Exercises have been changed -- if I were to assign Exercises 1, 4, 17 at the end of section 10.9, I want to be sure that all the students are doing the same exercises. Otherwise it's a grading nightmare.

Re:I support this (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020389)

whiner, $75 is cheap! I paid over $200 for Internal Combustion Engine Fundamentals. [] That was a few years ago. Open Courseware [] my ass! Heywood doesn't post the book online. Just the labs, homework, and syllabus.

Re:I support this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020601)

This is one example of information that should be free, or extremely cheap, at least when it comes to types of knowledge (math) that has not changed for centuries.

You need pictures added to math books- of women, minorities, and handicapped kids. Otherwise there is no level playing field with Asians and Europeans (who don't study more... they're just privileged.)

Textbook prices are determined by monopolies (5, Insightful)

techmuse (160085) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020035)

The big problem here is that the price of textbooks has increased at a far higher rate than inflation. Students are forced to buy whatever textbook their class uses, so the publisher can set whatever price they wish - the students still have to use the books. Essentially, the publishers are granted monopolies on books for specific groups of students.

To combat this, many students buy used books. Many school bookstores offer few or no new textbooks for some classes, because they make a lot of money buying textbooks back and reselling them for more money. Publishers claim this further drives up the price, because they don't get a cut of resales. This may be true, but they've created this situation by pricing new textbooks so much higher than what their market can reasonably afford.

What they are really talking about here with changing the problems is shutting down the used textbook market. If you can't use the book from last semester, the used book becomes nearly worthless.

Re:Textbook prices are determined by monopolies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020349)

Pirated textbooks have been around long enough. They can also be found in P2P networks like Gnutella and Kazaa. The only new thing here is a torrent site specifically dedicated for textbooks. And if you know how to look, file storage sites like Rapidshare are treasure troves for textbooks in PDF or DjVu (Dejavu) format.

wow (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020051)

I've benefited a lot from the GPL, but in the back of my mind I've always considered Richard Stallman as something of a crackpot.. A bit too odd..

But the more I think about it, the more he makes sense. He's talking about software, but imagine if other knowledge was as free as the source code. Imagine how *anyone* could learn and be productive without the barrier of money.

Re:wow (2, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020359)

I've benefited a lot from the GPL, but in the back of my mind I've always considered Richard Stallman as something of a crackpot.. A bit too odd..

But the more I think about it, the more he makes sense. He's talking about software, but imagine if other knowledge was as free as the source code. Imagine how *anyone* could learn and be productive without the barrier of money.

Hello... creative commons [] ?

Piracy helps against gouging.. (1)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020063)

When I was in college, I had lots of classes where we needed multiple $100+ textbooks - more than the cost of the course! I had a class once (business law) where the professor wrote 3 of the five books we needed and charged $90 for each book (paperback) and he required all five books. As far as I saw, we never even used two of the books out of the five!

College textbooks are completely ridiculous - and the material is not changing enough to warrant the insanely high costs. So, I say - good for the students that pirate them.

Surprise? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020081)

Why is this a surprise? College students are already known to be some of the heaviest P2P users, and frequently only look at their textbooks for a single, 4 month long course, and never again afterward. It makes no sense to spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks that are never used again after than period, and selling the books back rarely makes up the cost of the book.

The worst are courses where the books are updated year-by-year so that the practice problems will be different (I've even seen cases where the same mistakes persist in edition after edition, despite the books being updated), which makes buying the book from another student impossible and sometimes even getting the book from the library impossible, if the library does not have the budget to replace undamaged books every year. It makes some of the RIAA tactics seem reasonable by comparison.

Incentive for Profs? (2, Insightful)

mrgreenfur (685860) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020095)

Clearly most subjects don't dramatically change from year to year (intro physics, algebra, calc, history, etc...). Why do professors always want to use the most recent version? Is it only because they know everyone can get a copy? Wouldn't it be easier (and legal) to solve this problem by publishing a page-number alignment table so that ALL old versions could be used in the same class?

Re:Incentive for Profs? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020301)

There is sometimes more going on behind the scenes than that. This isn't like elementary school, where the teacher put the best interest of the students first (at least when it came to school supplies). Universities sign various deals with vendors of all sorts, including textbook publishers, and those deals usually impose requirements on the university. For example, my school's freshman engineering courses used a CAD tool that nobody had heard of, because the school had a deal with the company that marketed that tool that involved requiring its use in introductory engineering classes. I wouldn't doubt that in schools where the latest edition of the textbook is used for the course, the schools made a deal with the books' publishers that imposed such a requirement on the school.

There are ways to do this (3, Informative)

The Ancients (626689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020149)

Our Introduction to Finance course in uni had a decent approach to the textbook issue. We had the option to purchase the text book, but were also given free access to a PDF version of the book online through our uni intranet, which was locked to prevent printing or saving.

Yes, having to view it online was slightly inconvenient, but for many cash strapped students it was less convenient than having to fork out wads of cash for the print version.

Before anyone says it - yes, I mean 'free' as in we didn't have to specifically pay to access it - of course there's fees and such forth that cover the cost.

Is expense the only reason? (1)

tt465857 (1317143) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020163)

First, I agree that many textbooks are outrageously expensive. But is their expense really "inspiring" (i.e. justifying) p2p downloading? Or is it just that textbooks are now widely available in downloadable form? My guess is that the rate of piracy would not significantly diminish even if the price was reduced by 50% or even 75%. See, for example, the many computer-related ebooks you can find on the torrent sites. Most of those books have a fairly reasonable retail price but they are subject to widespread piracy.

Has there been any study of P2P networks that shows an increasing rate of piracy a given piece of media vs its price? (Comparisons would be difficult because popularity also plays a role).

- Trevor -
[[self-construction] [] ]: The autotherapeutic diary of a crazy geek's journey back to mental health

Physical vs Virtual (1)

sjaguar (763407) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020165)

I agree that text books are becoming increasingly expensive. I currently take 2-3 classes every two months in addition to some certification studying. A number of my textbooks due include an electronic copy. However, as much as I like the electronic copy, I also like to physically flip through the pages. I guess until I find an e-book reader that I like, I'm stuck with hard copy.

Textbooks are ridiculously expensive (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020175)

And the scheme of revisions that only change the spelling errors and the problems/answers is deplorable. It's a shame that people supposedly in the business of education engage in such activities. More curious to me however, is the fact that educational institutions haven't banded together to write and share "open" textbooks.

Screw the textbooks... (1, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020179)

where are the answer keys?

Thank god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020189)

Perhaps this will drive the publishers to put them on electronic formats (DRM free please) just like napster drove music companies to do same.

If the average American moves every 7 years, it should be a relief to get rid of the dead tree library.... I had to get rid of so many books, especially old college texts, that I could not justify keeping (but wanted to) whereas an electronic format would have made it easy -- especially with eink readers rapidly advancing this year.

I hope this also makes a ridiculous market cheaper. Charge too much.... and know you'll lose too much marketshare to piracy.

Re:Thank god (3, Insightful)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020307)

electronic formats (DRM free please)

Hah, that will not happen.
They will offer them with some crazy Windows Vista only DRM, priced the exact same as the printed book, and then use the complete lack of sales as a "see, people don't want e-book versions" example.

(I really wish I was being a bit too pessimistic there, but...)

Legal end run? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020201)

How about publishing tables that merely list equivalent pages and exercises between versions -- would that be legal? It would allow students to use old versions of the books,

textbook prices are insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020205)

I spend over 500 dollars on textbooks each semester, most of which I barely end up using. It's a real racket.

Cost per page (1)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020211)

The worst, imo, are the ones that aren't heavy, and are still expensive. I had one in college, for Theory of Computation, that was $80 for a 200 page book. That's 40 cents a page! It was a pretty good textbook, but I was still glad that I was able to just borrow one from someone else for the semester.

$75 for an ethics book (1)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020221)

and the bastards won't even give me an electronic copy. Hell, I'd pay more for my calc text if there was an digital copy.

Why(besides the typical bullshit reasons)can I not get a nice electronic copy of my textbooks when I buy them? Only one book ever did that and it was my stupid java book.

Re:$75 for an ethics book (5, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020309)

So, what are you going to do? Get a pirated copy of your ethics book?

Re:$75 for an ethics book (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020637)

I don't know about the content of your post, but the subject line was funny as hell!!!!

A good idea? (1)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020247)

"With the average cost of textbooks going up every year, and with some books costing more than $100, some experts say that piracy will only increase."

It's not my intention to troll, but this certainly won't help the cost aspect of it. College textbooks are different from music CDs in their profit margin. They differ at least in the cost of production and the frequency of purchase. There has to be some justifiable reason for professors to write these books -- they need compensation for their time.

I'm not saying that publishers are not abusive in this respect. I'd much rather see government-sponsored textbooks (textbook grants) or independent publishing.

There needs to be a solution to this problem, and I'm quite sure that this will not have the desired long-term effect.

Re:A good idea? (1)

rocketman768 (838734) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020427)

There has to be some justifiable reason for professors to write these books -- they need compensation for their time.

Then why not keep selling the same edition for 5-10 years? It would be easier to make more money if the same author kept getting paid for writing the one edition.

Regular books are far better than E-Books (1)

siDDis (961791) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020249)

I prefer by far to read from a regular book, it feels a lot more natural and is easier on my eyes.

It's worth to spend those extra $30 on the paper.

And don't buy the book your teacher recommends, unless it has a lot of great reviews at Amazon. You go to school to learn, a different book(and a book more suited for your learning style) is often way better. You don't have to rely on your teacher to learn something.

Never buy books! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020253)

I very very very rarely buy textbooks. The only time I will buy them is if I plan to keep them for my own personal library (I did this for books on biologically inspired algorithms, for example, as it is a subject I am interested in). Very rarely do any classes seriously require a book. Even if your homework is in the book, your university library will almost certainly have a copy. Usually they also have a copy machine or two right around the counter. Use your head.

Hopefully this will 'gouge' the publishers (1)

sabatu (1285296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020255)

I'm a junior in college right now, and last semester my tab for books ran right around $900 for 18 units. Fortunately I was able to buy most of them at half the cost from other students online, but my physics textbook was cycled to the '12th edition' and basically made me unable to submit problem sets from the 11th; long story short I wound up having to shell out $180 for the 12th edition book since no one else had their hands on it.

Textbooks = hidden tuition. (4, Informative)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020285)

It's been a number of years since I worked as an adjunct professor, but even then textbooks were outrageously expensive. I didn't even want to specify textbooks for my classes, but the school administration would always force me to pick one to use for the course. The reason was that the school made money from every textbook sold. It killed me to force struggling students to purchase expensive textbooks that they would hardly use, but I didn't have much choice. In a way it was as if the school was hiding part of their tuition within the book costs.


Re:Textbooks = hidden tuition. (1)

assassinator42 (844848) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020507)

That doesn't make much sense unless students were required to buy textbooks from the school bookstore. Were they? What school was this?
And if you didn't use the books, did you tell this to the students? I've had a couple professors list books as "required", but tell us that they actually weren't on the first day of class.

data mining from textbooks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020295)

Posting as AC.

I am a physics postdoc, and I found the use for pirated books. I downloaded a torrent of 4+ GB of physics (and other sciences) books (pdfs, djvus), photocopied, scanned and OCRed by our russian friends. Add papers and complete (legal!) books from springerlink, thanks to the university subscription. Fire up you favorite desktop search engine (google desktop search, beagle, tracker, strigi, etc...) and you have a treasure trove of information at your disposal. You can complement that with the google books scans of physics texts, specially dover books :)

Even my boss (who has published a book) likes the idea.

slashdotr ran this story years ago (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020329)

Summer repeat.

Textbook authors deserve to be paid. (3, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020335)

I'm sorry but I can't sit and watch liberals destroy themselves in the pursuit of free works.

Its one thing that the likes of any number of political musicians might suddenly find themselves without a fat paycheck once CD sales approach zero, its quite another when the very academic backbone on the country is assaulted.

It takes an enormous amount of work to make a good academic text. You can't just learn something like physics by skimming a few blog quotes, or get a real sense of any field, for that matter, by reading books. Is it unfortunate that they cost a lot? Yes, it is. But books have always been historically valuable things and the bulk of that value has been in the content.

I've read MIT Open Courseware and a lot of it actually is not that deep. A few syllabi and class notes and homework assignments is not the same as the book the class refers to!

Textbook authors deserve to be paid. If you have a society where authors do not get paid, you basically wipe out the entire academic basis of learning in the USA, and with it, our country. People's quests for knowledge about the world will not go away when you get rid of books, and, instead of books, they will have their heads filled with muddy, wrong and incorrect web sites all measured more by how many clicks they get from adsense than any real academic measure of the value of the work.

Indeed, there's a lot of that already.

But hey, if all of these professors want to work for free... they are more than welcome to it, but I guarantee them this - preachers -never- work for free, and, if people want to screw over universities because they don't want to pay their authors, then, we'll wind up reverting back to a medieval society.

Re:Textbook authors deserve to be paid. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020595)

I don't think anyone disagrees that the authors should be paid.

The disagreement is over physics books that update once a year and merely change the problem set from "an apple is dropped from 3 meters" to "an apple is dropped from 4 meters," for the blatant purpose of selling more copies.

While a textbook for a small field may require only a few hundred books to be published, justifying a rather large price tag, as the "author effort per book" ratio is high... this is not the case once your basic physics book reaches a print run of tens or hundreds of thousands of copies. For all practical purposes, versions 1 and 20 were the same book, and it's just gouging.

on half you pay half? (1)

maxconfus (522536) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020345)

returned to college after 15 years out and was glad to find that, and I am sure there are others, offers textbooks at often more than half the price of books in the bookstore. Was this not an option for the submitter? missing something? but I am surprised to know that books have only begun to appear on p2p.

My biggest problem with the cost of the books (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020377)

is that frequently the books aren't even any good and are full of factual errors. I'm not even talking high level, easy to mix up stuff here.

I had one textbook explain how javascript was invented by Sun and runs in the JVM just like Java.

I had yet another textbook explain how scripting languages like perl, php, and javascript have very little functionality and primarily work by executing binaries on the computer and using the output from them (like a ksh, csh, bash, etc script). That's a big "hell no" in all 3 cases and in the case of JavaScript, is not even an option in its most common use.

Those are just the errors I remember off the top of my head. I go through each of my textbooks and usually find 3-5 errors like those in each book without even having to look very hard or research any of the information given.

Publishers are selling these to people who may not know any better for $50-$75 each, with very basic information being totally incorrect. And then, even worse imo, the schools are telling students they have to buy them and then are sending students out into the real world after having been "taught" using such low quality learning materials.

semi-legal application (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020407)

I have a certain textbook that I will be using for a few more quarters in school that is well over 1000 pages. Ive already paid for it, and used it for one quarter, but I have been looking for something more conveinent. I decided to digitize it and put it on my EEE as a pdf and just dump the book. Chopping the bind off cost a buck at a local printing place, and I bought a scanner on ebay with an automatic feeder to scan it at high speed. Looks like I might be able to save some time and just resell the scanner. :)

I would MUCH rather buy a copy protected pdf of my books than a hard copy. IMO that is what they need to put on the "bonus" cds that I never touch.

Buy foreign (1)

Rinisari (521266) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020415)

I bought most of my books on eBay from international students (I'm in the US). I rarely spent more than $150 per semester until my last semester, which was heavy on liberal arts classes--I paid almost $400 for books that semester! A Physics-major friend of mine had a scholarship which paid for all of his books, which he got new all of the time: his were upwards of $800 per semester, and one semester, he topped $1,000.

Feedayeen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020461)

"He said that if the problem worsens, publishers may have to take other steps to prevent piracy, such as releasing a new version of most textbooks every semester. The versions could include slight modifications that could be changed easilyâ"such as altering the numbers in math problems."

What for? All this is going to do is destroy the used book market. The resale of used books is the only way that we can recoup some of our losses. With more expensive books, more people will download.

The **AAs tried this with their DRM. Guess what? Devaluing your products does not expand you consumer base.

Damnit. (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020475)

The less attention the treeware / ebook / whatever you want to call it scene gets, the better.

I could easily live without music and movies, but... books? I'd rather commit suicide.

Surely there are cooperative online textbooks? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020489)

Are there no cooperative online text books by now? Surely, for at least the common courses, any given prof. could write a section of a chapter. Have some small group of volunteers that handles the outline, divide up the work into chapters and sections, and get folks to write sections. Have another group edit. Heck, charge schools who don't contribute any staff time $100 per 'book' per class for access, and use that money to hire out the illustrations.

Textbooks made good sense, before the Internet.

There is no excuse for the cost of textbooks (2, Interesting)

evolvearth (1187169) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020541)

There is no justification for the price of textbooks, especially since I tend to find out that I never truly need them for the courses I take. I'm a biology major finishing up my degree, and I generally buy textbooks as a safety net just in case I need to drive a point home if I'm not quite getting it. The thing is, I end up buying a book I never have to use, $200 down the drain. Just by opening the textbook from its package, the value depreciates 60-80%--that is fucking unbelievable!

I found many books for courses on bittorrent and grabbed them, therefore textbooks have been free for me starting from the beginning of this year. I've actually used one book for one course, but that doesn't make up for the thousands of dollars practically robbed from me. Now publishers are upset that people are using technology to cut corners. It's not like they don't already have an advantage: physical textbooks are superior to anything I have to read on a computer, but I can't justify wasting (my parents') money on textbooks I simply don't use. It's not like sources aren't recycled among competing texts, and the damn information is incredibly easily to acquire on the internet for free and legitimately.

It's not impossible to make affordable texts. They weren't impossible in the days of our older professors who enjoy reminding us about the good ol' days of textbook affordability. How am I supposed to boycott companies without committing some kind of crime, Libertarians?

Buy International Editions (2, Informative)

usefulidiot127 (1317861) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020545)

As an engineering student I realized right away the idiotic amount of money I could end up dropping on text books. I've found buying paperback international editions from websites such as is extremely cost effective. I can buy a 170 dollar book for 11 bucks plus 15 dollars shipping. Every semester these books change, rendering my purchases worthless. If I can do without a book, I'll do without it. If I can't, I'll buy from India. I can't believe how many peple just sit around and pay these obscene prices.

You're complaining about heavy? (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020547)

I felt lucky when I got a book that actually weighed more than a few ounces.

$150 for a book 5"x7" and 1/3" thick is something to complain about.

I Blame the Chain BookStores in the UK (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020585)

Before the "NET Book Agreement" broke down you could get Academic books at reasonable prices in the UK. Since then the prices have gone through the roof for most book except crap Biography books of Z-List celebs!!!!

First and Second Rules of P2P (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24020589)

You don't talk about Book Club

Time for the OSS Community to act (3, Interesting)

querist (97166) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020597)

We know about the [] initiative. I can't see anything on their site about how they validate the textbooks. It's easy enough with books that are published by existing publishers, but what if you want to write an open textbook?

One of the things that makes a textbook an acceptable reference in research is that it is peer-reviewed. That peer-review has the benefit of checking for errors as well as giving some assurance that the content is correct. I'd hate to buy a maths book that messed up how to do a derivative.

We need the peer-review if these books are ever going to be taken seriously. This is a not a radical idea. It is, in many ways, a return to the past when academic ideas where exchanged freely.

What I would suggest is that those of us with Ph.D.'s in our fields set up some sort of agreement to review each other's "open source" texts under a few conditions (negotiable, of course).

One of those should be that if I'm going to review the textbook for free that the textbook itself should be available in a usable form for free or nearly free Download the pdf for free or for some very small amount to help offset hosting costs. There is no reason an electronic copy of a textbook should cost $90.

A second condition, courtesy, would be to mention the reviewers.

A third would be to include some blurb in the text about the whole open textbook thing and why the textbook was published at so little cost, etc. In other words, spread the word.

Printing costs money, and that is understandable. Lulu, and other services, offer on-demand printing. The OWASP project offer their materials via Lulu at cost, and free for electronic download.

I know there are many Slashdot readers who have Ph.D.'s in their fields. I also know that there are many who will be offended by my mentioning the Ph.D. or other doctoral degree as a qualification, but if we want these texts to be taken seriously in universities, then they need to follow the criteria that universities use when assessing textbooks. Sorry. If it is going to be taken seriously, then at least the "lead" author needs to have the degree or be someone very, very famous in the field (such as Bruce Schneier).

I'm going to contact the Open Textbook people, but I'd like to see who here in the Slashdot community would be willing to put in some time to see something like this work. Here's a chance to fight back in a way that is legal, ethical, and just may work.

There are plenty of people on Slashdot who are more than adequately qualified to write university-grade textbooks on various subjects.

I'm sure some people are going to flame me for this. It was not my intent to offend anyone. I am an adjunct professor, so I am somewhat familiar with how textbooks are evaluated and selected.

I think we can make a difference here, just like the OSS community have made a difference in software.

I find it amusing that the CAPTCHA for this post is "computes".

Textbooks! (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#24020613)

My freshmen year I got reamed pretty bad, but I wised up quickly. Generally buying international editions on the cheap (I have an int'l algorithms textbook right next to me that I still use years later), buying from Amazon and Half, and most importantly, buying directly from students. The only time I would go into the bookstore was to write down what books I needed and their ISBN. I always laughed at their prices.

I also generally avoided buying really expensive textbooks until I absolutely needed them, and even then, returned them within a day or two of buying them or just going to the library and sitting there for a few hours working on problems.

I saved a ton of money, probably about a $1000 from sophomore to senior year. I would have saved more if a bunch of my textbooks hadn't gotten destroyed when our house's roof leaked and all the water dripped right onto my books... My landlord cut me a $100 check for probably $250 worth of resellable books.

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