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We Rent Movies, So Why Not Textbooks?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the or-food dept.

Education 398

Hugh Pickens writes "Using Netflix as a business model, Osman Rashid and Aayush Phumbhra founded Chegg, shorthand for 'chicken and egg,' to gather books from sellers at the end of a semester and renting — or sometimes selling — them to other students at the start of a new one. Chegg began renting books in 2007, before it owned any, so when an order came in, its employees would surf the Web to find a cheap copy. They would buy the book using Rashid's American Express card and have it shipped to the student. Eventually, Chegg automated the system. 'People thought we were crazy,' Rashid said. Now, as Chegg prepares for its third academic year in the textbook rental business, the business is growing rapidly. Jim Safka, a former chief executive of Match.com and Ask.com who was recently recruited to run Chegg, said the company's revenue in 2008 was more than $10 million, and this year, Chegg surpassed that in January alone."

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Hey Faggots, (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28586797)

My name is John, and I hate every single one of you. All of you are fat, retarded, no-lifes who spend every second of their day looking at stupid ass pictures. You are everything bad in the world. Honestly, have any of you ever gotten any pussy? I mean, I guess it's fun making fun of people because of your own insecurities, but you all take to a whole new level. This is even worse than jerking off to pictures on facebook.

Don't be a stranger. Just hit me with your best shot. I'm pretty much perfect. I was captain of the football team, and starter on my basketball team. What sports do you play, other than "jack off to naked drawn Japanese people"? I also get straight A's, and have a banging hot girlfriend (She just blew me; Shit was SO cash). You are all faggots who should just kill yourselves. Thanks for listening.

Re:Hey Faggots, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587011)

This is an interesting first post. I find it interesting because of my own personal experience on this planet. In my years here, I have seen this type of attitude among many people. Often it is the persons own inability to come to terms with their failure as a human being and lack of any real social skills, as well as their need to feel superior to others. It is their own narcissism and lack of others seeing them in this light that leads them to try to convince others that they have some special skill or ability greater than that of the people around them. When this fails they tend to digress into self-pity and finding ways to insult others because of their own short comings. I gather from your post that not only are you a complete failure in life, but you have no friends and have never even had a woman actually want to perform fellatio on you, much less actually do it. The sooner you accept your place in this world, you know, at the bottom of the chain, that would be below things like bacteria and dog shit. The sooner you will be able to grow as a person and create some friends and possibly even live among those of us who DO get to talk to girls and maybe even have sex. It is a really nice thing to have sex with women and I am sure if you can ever remove your head from your ass you would agree with me. Thanks for listening!

Re:Hey Faggots, (-1, Offtopic)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587105)

OR he's just a fourteen year old kid who thought this was funny.

I think dissecting his post like you did gave him about 3000% more attention than he actually deserved.

On the other hand, it was pretty funny and right out of left field ;).

Re:Hey Faggots, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587221)

This is an interesting first post. I find it interesting because of my own personal experience on this planet. In my years here, I have seen this type of attitude among many people. Often it is the persons own inability to come to terms with their failure as a human being and lack of any real social skills, as well as their need to feel superior to others. It is their own narcissism and lack of others seeing them in this light that leads them to try to convince others that they have some special skill or ability greater than that of the people around them. When this fails they tend to digress into self-pity and finding ways to insult others because of their own short comings. I gather from your post that not only are you a complete failure in life, but you have no friends and have never even had a woman actually want to perform fellatio on you, much less actually do it. The sooner you accept your place in this world, you know, at the bottom of the chain, that would be below things like bacteria and dog shit. The sooner you will be able to grow as a person and create some friends and possibly even live among those of us who DO get to talk to girls and maybe even have sex. It is a really nice thing to have sex with women and I am sure if you can ever remove your head from your ass you would agree with me. Thanks for listening!

Way to blow things way out of proportion. The guy made a joke (and a funny one at that) and you ream him out for it. Maybe you should be a little less concerned about what other people write and take a look at your own. Take a break from the internet maybe. Preform fellatio on your husband,that he probably doesn't want seeing as your love is growing stale now that you spend all your time on slashdot over-scrutinizing everything. And yes, sex with women is satisfying, but you probably aren't interested in that.

Re:Hey Faggots, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587185)

Wow straight A's. Very impressive.

Re:Hey Faggots, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587203)

But you do post on Slashdot, right?

Re:Hey Faggots, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587265)

Get straight As? Sounds like you're a High schooler with zero actual power or real life skills or experience, otherwise "I maintain a 4.0 GPA" would be the thing to say (do remember that if you plan on doing this troll again). Well, I've a decent job, an ok social life, plus contempt at silly creatures such as yourself who consider their childish accomplishments to actually mean anything instead of looking at them as only a good start. You're good at sports, and academics? Great, now figure how to apply them to real life. Also, getting laid? 50% of the population is female, as long as you're patient, somewhat social, and not outright disgusting, getting some is trivial.

Re:Hey Faggots, (-1, Troll)

Travelsonic (870859) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587277)

Don't be a stranger. Just hit me with your best shot. I'm pretty much perfect.

Perfectly full of shit. Come on, go back to Troll School, you flunk.

Editions (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28586825)

Editions.

Re:Editions (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28586871)

I didn't think of that. What I was thinkin was this. As long as we're talkin about renting movies and textbooks, why not rent niggers? I mean I know it's antique farm equipment but that doesnt mean it cant pick cotton........it sure is a lot better than watchin the jungle dances and nigger pidgin (inability to speak english despite bein here for generations) that passes for rap videos.

Re:You mean racketeering (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587013)

The whole textbook market is a scam to rip off students. The vendors keep churning the book versions simply just to keep saturation low (why do we need 17 editions of an algebra book?).

At one point, I had purchased a marketing book only to find that a new version had come out right at the beginning of the semester. The prof apologized for the problem and handed out an addendum for the students with the early edition. The only changes were to the end-of-chapter quiz questions. And most of those questions remained the same - just with the question numbering changed slightly.

They weren't even trying to be creative with the fact that they were screwing the students. Everyone knew this to be the case and accepted it. I think that I was the only person who was upset by this obvious racket.

Is this what we should expect for everything from now on? If schools really cared about anything but profits, then we'd have a mandatory open-source textbook market where academia would be free to create and modify textbooks. These textbooks would cost nothing. Certainly, there would still be a need for private market textbooks (on arcane and/or rapidly changing subjects) but I can see a substantial portion of textbook requirements displaced by an open system.

Re:You mean racketeering (4, Insightful)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587243)

If schools really cared about anything but profits, then we'd have a mandatory open-source textbook market where academia would be free to create and modify textbooks.

It doesn't work that way. We can't just simply "force" a product to exist. If it doesn't exist already, then that typically means there isn't a happy medium between the cost of providing such a service and the cost to the users of the service. That's the way that free market works; if it can be done, and people want it, then it usually is done. If it doesn't exist, especially if it is a service in high demand, like free knowledge, then it means that, most probably, it can't exist without massive subsidies, or slave labour.

Re:You mean racketeering (5, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587269)

    You shouldn't have posted AC, you were actually insightful.

    You did forget to mention when the instructor requires that you buy HIS book as required reading for the class, regardless of what ego-fluffing crap he had written. Most, but not all, instructors are teaching because they can't hack it in the real world of their chosen field. I've gotten this both from the instructors and from the idiots who are churned out of various universities who glow over their degree, but can't handle simple functions of their chosen profession. How can you spend years studying something and not have a clue of what you're doing?

    For IT work, I'd hire someone who spent 2 years exploring their chosen field at home or at a lower level job and can explain topics in detail, rather than a graduate of a 4 year institution with their warm fuzzy diploma and no clue of how to really do the work.

    Honestly, I've hired both, and found it to be more than abundantly true. 2 years of tech school, 4 years of university, or the guy who's installed every distro available just to see how they work?

    The self-trained explorer at home turned out to be the best. They'll be more willing to honestly tell me where their weaknesses are, so I can tutor them as problems happen, and they will learn. For example, one guy told me, "Well, I don't know sendmail that well." Fine. It was a webhosting gig, but I generally managed the mail servers. I'd send him notes on my changes, and he'd ask questions. It wasn't long before I'd get notes in saying "I made this change, for this reason" to a primary mail server, and the changes would be correct.

    The 2 year tech school grads came in with resumes listing all of our technologies, and telling me they knew their stuff. It was all regular industry stuff. We didn't reinvent the wheel, we simply used the existing technologies to their fullest. I asked about Cisco, and they both said "I successfully passed the Cisco class, I know how to work our equipment". Great. I needed an IP and password set on a new switch, and installed in a DC. I was going to make the rest of the changes before it was really used. It sat on the bench for a week until the first told me "I don't know how." {sigh}. I gave it to the second, who did the same thing. What? If you aren't guided through it by an instructor, you have no clue of how to operate it? It wasn't urgent, but it didn't need to sit idle on the bench for 2 weeks. I never liked leaving equipment in the office, when it could be in the DC ready to use in a pinch. They were trained to pass the tests, not how to practically operate anything. They wasted 2 years of their lives, the tuition money, and two months of my office space.

    I handed it off to a guy that said "Well, I never used it, but I'll try.". It took him about an hour, but he did it right and asked me questions on preconfiguring ports for me. Above and beyond. I like that. I didn't want the ports done, I had my own config to lay over it for that. I just needed to be able to access it from the office. :)

    Now, when I get to a position where I'm hiring again, my same rules will apply. Great if you have a degree, but you'd better have the practical application of the required technology before I'll consider you. So, a guy sitting at home for 2 years messing with it will always have preference over a guy who sat at a university for 4 years, unless the university guy can also show me that he's had a couple years of hands-on work with it.

Re:You mean racketeering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587285)

I just finished a Statistics class for Business with a new edition of a book released. The Prof goes on to state that he will only refer to the new book when quoting page numbers, which may or may not have changed. He tells us he won't entertain questions about what content may be different from the previous version because he doesn't really know. He gives us a nice story and his sympathies when it comes to college textbooks and the pricing scheme between new and used. He talked about how the revision process works: how publishers only allow slight changes to a set number of chapters and maybe 1 or 2 major chapter revisions. He explained how the compensation process works. And he eventually realized that his name is all over the textbook because he's the primary author.

I must say, that is pretty much the only thing I really learned in Busniess Statistics.

Re:Editions (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587041)

Also if they want to ask "We Rent Movies, So Why Not Textbooks?" then why not also have public libraries of movies, as its worked for hundreds of years for books. The libraries buy the books and our taxes pay for the libraries so they can buy movies (and music) the same way. After all books don't earn their living from libraries as books are still also sold to fans of the books, so its not as if libraries are the only source of income for books.

So that only leaves the film and music companies not wanting to allow access in libraries and make it so expensive as to be impractical in libraries.

Probably part of their reasoning is the film and music companies try to engineer most peoples consent and acceptance of their high prices and high wages for themselves. (Music especially doesn't cost so much more to produce that a book, other than the over inflated wages many people in that industry have grown accustomed to earning. Its no surprise to find in such an overly attention seeking Histrionic driven industry such as the music industry, that they have such an over inflated and dramatic opinion of its own self worth).

My library has DVDs (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587153)

then why not also have public libraries of movies

The last time I checked Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, it had collections of movies on VHS and DVD for lending.

Music especially doesn't cost so much more to produce that a book

It's also much easier to copy ever since home taping. Unlike tape decks, photocopiers made by Xerox can't just copy an entire book by the user mounting the source and destination media and pushing Start.

Re:Editions (3, Insightful)

danking (1201931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587171)

Last time I checked (which was yesterday) my local library carried both a wide range of music and movies.

Re:Editions (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587345)

And half the movies and CDs we take home are scratched enough that they skip quite a bit. Of course the books aren't in great condition either, but due to the fact that the data density is so much smaller, a scratch doesn't seem to cause any problems in readability. I wonder what the legal ramifications of lending out a copy of the original CD/DVD from the library, so that they can make another copy to lend when the first becomes unreadable?

Re:Editions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587191)

why not also have public libraries of movies

I have to assume that either you don't spend much time in public libraries, or yours aren't very good. Around here (Twin Cities, MN) you can get most any movie you want from the library. The reason rentals are more popular is that you request what you want and get it when it's available (ala Netflix), and still have to go pick it up (ala Blockbuster, et al); it's the worst of both worlds. For folks like me, though, who read more books than we watch movies, it's perfect.

The reason it doesn't work well for textbooks is the checkout period at any library I've been to, except when I was a grad student (and didn't have textbooks), is significantly shorter than a semester, precisely because of the limited number of copies they have (more than one person gets to see it in a semester). If you're renting them out, you can afford to have lots of copies of just the popular books, but libraries' strength comes from having variety.

Re:Editions (5, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587163)

Editions.

To expand:

I have to teach out of one edition or another. Different editions can have different material, or can have it in different places. I have to test. When I have 4 classes with 200+ students, half of them online (as I have recently), I have to automate the process in order to give grades and feedback in a timely manner. To do that I have to test on one edition, rather than trying to develop tests for several. I spend a great deal of time developing additional instructional material just for the one edition and don;t have time to keep developing tests.

I tell my students that I don't care what edition they use, or indeed if they don't own a book at all. But they are responsible for covering the material in the chosen edition because that's what is tested in content and arrangement. A few take me up on it. Some manage to get an A (though not a perfect score) with a 'wrong' edition if they pay close attention to what's covered rather than just chapter numbers. Some gang up with others and compare books so they can copy the different material for each others' use. Most don't attempt this and go for the chosen edition. I'd make it easier on them all and teach from an older edition, but most sources don't redistribute older editions -- they often don't even buy them back. This one source might help in that respect, but it'll take many doing the same and doing it with older editions to make it possible for me to choose, teach and test from an older one.

Does this really save that much money? (4, Insightful)

Banzai042 (948220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586833)

In all reality, how is this all that different from a student buying a textbook at the start of a semester and selling it back at the end? I also think that the endless cycle of "new" editions of the book can put a crimp in the plans for this service, since schools will require the latest edition of a book, which will be impossible for this company to find cheaply online, meaning that they'll need to price to rental to pay for the full cost of the book in just a few semesters (before the new one comes out).

Interesting idea, but I'm skeptical as to how well they can keep costs low enough to be a truly economical alternative to buying.

Why the latest edition? (3, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586865)

schools will require the latest edition of a book

How do schools justify requiring the latest edition of a book to their students?

Re:Why the latest edition? (4, Informative)

Banzai042 (948220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586879)

When I was in school it was "Here are the homework assignments, they're only in the new version of the textbook". I'm not saying it's in any remote way logical, just that's what they do.

Re:Why the latest edition? (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586911)

At DIKU they will often try to tell you how the newest version maps to the old one, but in the end most students end up just buying the new book rather than trying to keep up, often having to jump back and forth in the book.

Re:Why the latest edition? (2, Interesting)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586925)

When I was in school it was "Here are the homework assignments, they're only in the new version of the textbook". I'm not saying it's in any remote way logical, just that's what they do.

I assume you're talking about the college level.

It's logical alright, it's just ugly. Much of the time, that professor is the person who wrote the textbook. The one they make mandatory for their class. The one they will sell to you, for the low, low price of several times the production costs.

Sometimes what they teach is quite different from what they claim to teach. Yeah the syllabus might talk about physics, or English. The subject taught might be more like "Ok class, for today's lesson I will demonstrate what corruption is and will also touch on the incorrect use of authority. See, it's ugly isn't it? Here's what not to do."

Re:Why the latest edition? (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587033)

Don't make the mistake of assuming that textbook authors get much money from the sales. They don't. If your professors are assigning you their own books, they may be getting a bit of an ego boost, but they're not doing it for financial reasons. (And more likely, it's for the good and sufficient reason that they know the textbook will be in accord with their lesson plans.) The publishers are the ones who make almost all the money from textbook sales, and they're the ones who are constantly pushing new editions for that reason.

Re:Why the latest edition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587197)

A professor I had wrote his own textbook. His slides correlate greatly to the text (even using the same diagrams). He sells the slides to other professors who uses his textbook.

In class the second day, a student asked "is that the textbook" while pointing to a book. The professor replied "No, that is a pirated copy of my book." In fact it was an international edition. Illegally imported, yes, but not in any way pirated.
http://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-Database-Systems-Ramez-Elmasri/dp/0321369572/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246815193&sr=1-1

Re:Why the latest edition? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587199)

Don't make the mistake of assuming that textbook authors get much money from the sales. They don't. If your professors are assigning you their own books, they may be getting a bit of an ego boost, but they're not doing it for financial reasons. (And more likely, it's for the good and sufficient reason that they know the textbook will be in accord with their lesson plans.) The publishers are the ones who make almost all the money from textbook sales, and they're the ones who are constantly pushing new editions for that reason.

That's not unlike the situation with recording artists and the average record label. Still, I've yet to hear of a band that said "nah, don't promote our music, we want to be unknown and unheard-of." Also, you say "bit of ego boost" as though it were a footnote when it was the very point of what I was saying. What do you think the money represents for a lot of these folks? There are some notable exceptions but speaking generally, professors are not known for their meekness.

What you say about the publishers tells me that the order of things is backwards there. The professors and the students are their customers. When things are properly ordered, you do not dictate to your customers what they should buy, nor would they stand for it if you tried. Companies and governments have one thing in common: they exist for one and only one purpose, and that is to be our servants. That many of them have forgotten this and that we have collectively failed to (legally, reasonably) remind them does not make this less true.

Re:Why the latest edition? (1)

zolltron (863074) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587293)

Thank you. I get really tired of hearing people claim that professors are teaching out of their textbooks to make money. VERY FEW textbook authors make any real money, and none of them make much from their own classes.

Some, I'm sure, do it for an ego boost, but most people I know that teach out of their own textbook do it for completely honest reasons. They really think they know the best way to teach material and want to teach it that way. Often there is lots of nuance that they want to teach that isn't captured in any particular book.

If a professor honestly thinks they have the best way to teach some subject, they have to write a book. And, if they want that book adopted by others, they have to get the book published. While we have gone a long way with free textbooks on the web, the fact is that you're very unlikely to get that book adopted by others unless you have the publishing industry sending out representatives pushing your book. So -- while it may seem silly that professors don't give away their books given how little they make on them -- many use publishers because they honestly want the material to be taught in a better way.

Re:Why the latest edition? (2, Interesting)

subanark (937286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587195)

At least where I'm from, if a professor requires the use of his/her book in one of his/her own classes, (s)he will not get any money from the students buying the book (although the publisher will).

Re:Why the latest edition? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587313)

Much of the time, that professor is the person who wrote the textbook. The one they make mandatory for their class. The one they will sell to you, for the low, low price of several times the production costs.

I have only had this happen once. The book was recommended not mandatory and the professor had arranged for my department to sell it for £7

Something to change schools over? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586955)

When I was in school it was "Here are the homework assignments, they're only in the new version of the textbook".

Even if all professors in that school followed that policy inflexibly, there exist more than one school.

Re:Something to change schools over? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587267)

Maybe, but there are plenty of people going to schools where one semester of tuition is $5,000. At that point, the difference between spending $400 and $150 a semester on books may not hold much sway.

Re:Why the latest edition? (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586887)

Typically, the publisher will stop selling the old edition, and the school's bookstore won't be able to assure supply of anything but the new one.

On occasion, you'll hear stories of the professor who wrote the book doing sleazy stuff to the classes he teaches to bulk his royalties; but the pressure is mostly from the publisher side.

Then switch to Free textbooks (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586981)

Typically, the publisher will stop selling the old edition

In other words, the old "Disney vault" trick. Is there a reason why professors haven't led the way in switching to textbooks published as free [freedomdefined.org] cultural [creativecommons.org] works [educause.edu] ?

Re:Then switch to Free textbooks (2, Funny)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587053)

You forgot Wikibooks [wikibooks.org]

How far along is Wikibooks? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587085)

Wikibooks is a good example for anything that has a featured book. But a lot of books I see there, like the one on digital signal processing, are full of "25% done" modules. About how much of a typical undergraduate engineering or arts curriculum can WB featured books serve?

Re:Then switch to Free textbooks (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587315)

Inertia. Give it 20 or 30 years.

Re:Why the latest edition? (2, Interesting)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586943)

>How do schools justify requiring the latest edition of a book to their students?

Because it presents an additional revenue stream for the professors on staff that write them?

Re:Why the latest edition? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28586957)

They don't justify requiring them. They just require them.

Justify, or I transfer. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587007)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

They don't justify requiring them.

If they don't need to justify requiring an expensive textbook, then the students don't need to justify transferring to a less-expensive school.

Re:Justify, or I transfer. (2, Insightful)

cnvandev (1538055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587091)

Not if the program of study [wikipedia.org] you're looking for isn't available at other schools, or the body which regulates the profession you're looking to enter [peo.on.ca] (which also legally controls the use of the title of your profession) requires successful completion of a degree in an "accredited institution of learning," where accredited means is on a list that they maintain. That narrows your choices somewhat; add in the fact that moving to another school outside of your country includes the cost of moving, living away from home, and the fees required for international school (and don't forget a student visa!), and you've got yourself quite the bill. Which is on top of your already-mounting student debt.

Additionally, the notion of "transferring" between most schools is laughable, at best. It's difficult enough to transfer within your school without losing all or most of your credits (and consequentially, tens of thousands of dollars of your money); doing so between schools is pretty much a huge pain in the ass.

Not that I'm complaining about the system - I don't know much about it, let alone have enough experience within it to judge it - but it's not as simple to use a less expensive school.

Re:Justify, or I transfer. (-1, Offtopic)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587189)

the body which regulates the profession you're looking to enter (which also legally controls the use of the title of your profession) requires successful completion of a degree in an "accredited institution of learning," where accredited means is on a list that they maintain.

If all schools on the accredited list have the same policy of requiring new textbooks whose only significant changes are the ordering of questions in the exercises, I'm smelling an opportunity for a class-action antitrust lawsuit.

Oh wait, you appear to be in Canada, and I'm not sure whether you have ambulance-chasing tradition that exists in the United States.

Re:Justify, or I transfer. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587299)

What school do/did you go to? Most public universities accept 40 or 50 transfer credits, which gives you at least a year to work out that your current school sucks, and at the university I attended, 'transferring' credits between programs wasn't an issue (but programs had different requirements, so switching might mean abandoning some credits).

Re:Why the latest edition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587255)

How do schools justify requiring the latest edition of a book to their students?

Well, there is new material. The body of knowledge does increase through new discoveries.

But the real reason is that many professors get large cash kickbacks from the publishers.

True story: back in university, taking an organic chemistry course. The professor says any organic chemistry textbook published in the last 6 years that weighs at least 10 pounds will cover the material for his course. And he was right!

Most of the intro science courses haven't changed much - while there are new developments in calculus, they aren't covered in most 1st & 2nd year courses.

Re:Why the latest edition? (2, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587297)

the same way programs require you have service pack 1, or service pack 2 etc. The course material was built around a particular version.

If the student needs to buy a book, there's no reason to not recommend the newest version. New versions exist for a reason, error correction, new information, change in focus etc. all go into making new editions.

Other reasons:
The professor only has the new version. Profs get textbooks for free, usually many more than they will actually use, but publishers only send along the newest versions. (Sometimes they send these to departments rather than individual profs but the effect is the same). I'm now 7 years from finishing my undergrad. If I were to teach a course my choices are: my textbook from 7-11 years ago, which in engineering or the sciences could be irrelevant, or it could make the books antiquated garbage, or I grab the latest edition supplied by the publisher. I'm certainly not going to construct course material (which I hope to reuse next year) based on a 2 or 3 year old book when there's a new one out. That's like those people who are still clinging to office 2003 and complaining about installing office 2007 at universities... the world has moved on (for better or worse), and students don't want to go back and learn office 2003 when they have 2007 on their fancy new laptops.

Using multiple versions takes longer. Section 3.3 in 4th edition may not have been copied verbatim from any section in 3rd edition, and even if it was you have to find it. If it wasn't you need to tell students where equivalent information can be found, assuming it can be, and make sure you aren't using anything from the 4th edition that isn't in the 3rd.

We don't expect you to resell most of your books. Gasp. Looked into a professors office? Most of them are full of textbooks. If we picked it for you we probably figure its useful and you should keep it: Only applies to some courses (usually the more senior ones)

How long do you support an old edition? How long is the new edition going to last. I know when you're a student it feels like there's a new edition of every book every year, but there isn't. Most books last for quite a few years before they put out new versions. So how long do I want to support the old version? It's like software, once gears of war 2 comes out how much support does gears 1 get? If the average life of an edition of a book is 5 or 6 years I could be trying to run two versions in parallel for half the life of the first one, assuming I stay on th course.

From experience with old editions (in general). I TA'd for a guy who used to find stuff in the bargain bin at the bookstore and use that as a textbook. He wanted to keep things cheap for students. Except that a class of 200 people all trying to find the same out of print book becomes a problem, fast. If 3 or 4 weeks into the course students can't get the text you have a serious problem. The last thing you want is to say 'we recommend this $160 textbook, but the $80 prior edition will still work' only to find out 3 weeks in that the class is waiting to get the previous edition.

Lastly, and to be kind of a dick about it, generally universities don't care. You're spending ~7K in tuition (in canada) + ~12K living expenses for the 8 months you're with us at school. Wasting time fussing over differents versions of textbooks which only barely flutter in top 2 or 3% of that doesnt' register on anyones radar. It should, but it doesn't. That's all out of hte disposable income, which is a tight resource, but we don't want to let you disadvantage yourself by pleading poverty. If everyone else is using the 9th edition and you're on the 8th you're probably making life harder for yourself, and for us, and we don't care that much. Maybe universities should, but they're more worried about making sure tuition doesn't end up like it does in the US, and making sure there is someone to teach your class and that they're getting research done, and money brought in so they can pay grad students who will TA your course.

Re:Does this really save that much money? (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586937)

<quote>In all reality, how is this all that different from a student buying a textbook at the start of a semester and selling it back at the end? I also think that the endless cycle of "new" editions of the book can put a crimp in the plans for this service, since schools will require the latest edition of a book, which will be impossible for this company to find cheaply online, meaning that they'll need to price to rental to pay for the full cost of the book in just a few semesters (before the new one comes out).

Interesting idea, but I'm skeptical as to how well they can keep costs low enough to be a truly economical alternative to buying.</quote>

Schools do this by changing the curriculum, or by shuffling it around. So what is now being thought in the first semester, will be taught in the second semester in a few years, or even in a different school year depending on how the textbooks change. I've seen it happen a million times. Sure you could still technically use the old edition, but you won't be able to follow the curriculum, the examples will be different, the ordering will be confusing etc. Essentially they become useful for only practice at home.

At universities, however, it's different. There such things are much more difficult to do since classes usually have a semester of time to teach everything they want to teach, so even a ten year old textbook will be sufficient. Classes and curriculum in general is also much less tied to the textbook and much more to the actual content. In fact, most professors at the beginning of a semester will give you a list of books where the stuff is explained in more or less detail. You have a choice of studying from them or not, nobody cares because there is no Official Textbooks, there are just books on the subject.

Re:Does this really save that much money? (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586945)

Did you really have professors that required the newest books? Maybe my department (chemistry major) was a little different, but they didn't care. The semester usually started off with "here is the current book. If you don't have this one don't worry about it, just make copies of what you need." The same went for my math classes.

Re:Does this really save that much money? (1, Redundant)

dissy (172727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587129)

Did you really have professors that required the newest books? Maybe my department (chemistry major) was a little different, but they didn't care. The semester usually started off with "here is the current book. If you don't have this one don't worry about it, just make copies of what you need." The same went for my math classes.

The problem is mainly with the professors who write the textbook for their own class, thus are the copyright holder, and make minor changes here and there (moving a keyword to another paragraph, swapping the titles of sections, renaming sections) so that an older book would cause more confusion as it didn't match up with the course work exactly.
If you question them on this, they say it is your own fault for not having the newest $160 copy of the book.

To those types, teaching anyone is not their desire, only to extract more money from them.
Granted, those people should never have been able to be hired into a position requiring them to give our their precious knowledge after it was paid for *only* once (gasp!), but that is the state of things for the past decade.

I've even had one professor state he would fail anyone caught with an older version of the book.
(If that happened or not I can't say, since around a quarter of the class including myself dropped it)

Fortunately not all professors are like this. Most that are in that game do it for the teaching the next generation, and kudos to them.

As usual, it is the few bad apples ruining everything around them.

Re:Does this really save that much money? (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586953)

The margin between the buyback price and the resell price is huge with textbook stores on campus. I noticed this during my college career and started building a site that would facilitate peer-to-peer reselling without the middleman. Since the margin was so large, it would be very easy for me to undercut the textbook stores and still make a large profit.

Alas, it was eventually filed under my 'future ideas' folder along with 20 others and I was distracted by other things... like women and beer...

Re:Does this really save that much money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28586993)

I started using Chegg as soon as the site went online, and in my experience, the answer is "it depends." If you're renting a new edition of a book that is known to be updated frequently, you'll probably save a few bucks compared to the bookstore. I managed to get the best savings either on older books, or new revisions of rarely updated books. In some cases, I was paying $35 to rent books that cost $100 new or $75 used.

Keep in mind that in order to maximize savings, you really need to shop early. If your professor or bookstore release the book list late in the game, you're not going to get a good deal. But if you rent from Chegg a month or more before the semester starts, you can get some great bargains.

The major benefit to Chegg is that you don't have to worry about the risk of trying to resell books that will be revised the next semester, or have to fight through hundreds of online sellers who are undercutting your price. Smart students recognize that the school bookstore will fleece them, so many people are buying and selling on Amazon or Half.com. Once classes end, every idiot under the sun just wants to get rid of his book, even if it means getting $10 back on a $100 book. Chegg eliminates both of those worries - you pay one discounted price, and mail off the book using a pre-paid stamp.

In all, compared to purchasing directly from the bookstore, I probably saved $500. As compared to buying online, I saved about $200.

Re:Does this really save that much money? (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587149)

In all, compared to purchasing directly from the bookstore, I probably saved $500. As compared to buying online, I saved about $200.

See, at my university I didn't need to buy any textbooks, as there was a library, and there were loads of copies of all the recommended books. Also, the lecturers never set coursework from books, they handed out sheets of paper with the questions on (or more usually said "see my website").

I did buy one book as I thought it was interesting. It's currently for sale on Amazon.co.uk for £45 (the "international edition"), but Amazon.com lists it for $95.

Re:Does this really save that much money? (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587073)

considering they rolled 10 million dollars last year, i don't think its crimping it much.

Re:Does this really save that much money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587075)

I looked up the prices of books I used last semester on Chegg and a AddAll (a used book search engine) and the price to purchase a used copy was the same or less than the price to rent. And, I get to sell (or keep) the book at the end of the course.

I guess it will save you money if you buy books new but I don't plan on switching.

Convenience (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587187)

If implemented right - it saves first and foremost HUUUUGE amounts of time. Usually also money - while you could resale/etc. books yourself, there will also be those editions you have hard time reselling...

Yes, the cause of the second problem are schools requiring latest editions. I can see the point in college/etc. level education (though even there only with some portion of books), but there's really not much point in highschool level education.

And while schools are the cause of complications, they can be also the best solution...if there's some will to do it. Because it's not only about latest editions, it's also about students having the same edition.

Now, arguably I'm biased, since my highschool was probably the only one in medium sized-town that had a solution - give 1/8 to 1/6 of the price you'd pay yourself at the beginning of the year, and you have all the books needed. And what a convenience, having them just wait for you in the first week. Just give them back, for next year students. Everybody has the same editions, money you give is for partial replacements, oldest editions had typically 10 years.

Essentially it was for-pay library, with enough copies of each book that everybody had one for themselves. After "classic" solution of primary school, it was simply superb.

But it was also evil socialism in action...

Because... (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586839)

you only get one or two semesters out of textbooks before the company releases a new edition. I don't see how this business model solves that problem.

Arguably, we already do. (3, Insightful)

kulakovich (580584) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586849)

Given the following points:

1. Student pay ridiculous prices for half-useful photo-laden authoritative textbooks, only to sell them back to the publisher-run book resale cartels for 10% of the price they paid.

2. With the current trend of Big Copyright, every written work must have an owner/copyright holder. Therefore, you do not own the books you have copies of.

I own my experience of the book, or the movie, and put forward that those experiences, being mine, grant me ownership of the work as my experience as much as the money I paid for the 400 pages of paper and ink.

We will look back to the beginning of the 21st Century and laugh at this Information Prohibition.

kulakovich

Re:Arguably, we already do. (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586897)

We will look back to the beginning of the 21st Century and laugh at this Information Prohibition.

You mean just like we look now at drug/substance prohibition? The way we learned our lesson that it's never going to work no matter how hard we try because the very idea represents a total failure to comprehend the situation? The way it's a hypocritical position which has done a great deal of harm in the name of justice? I'm glad nothing like that goes on today... Oh.

You almost have point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28586977)

were it not for one fundamental difference: one action is consensual, the other isn't.

Most writers do not want you copying/distributing their work without compensation.

Drugs are happily made and happily bought.

Re:You almost have point... (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587081)

Most police forces don't want you using drugs. Just because someone doesn't consent to you doing something doesn't necessarily mean that their opinion should be relevant.

Re:You almost have point... (3, Insightful)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587181)

Frankly, I think the police couldn't care less. They're just as brainwashed as everyone else, but in a hypothetical situation, where an informed and rational adult consumes drugs responsibly, what would they care? What would anyone care?

What people are scared of is the abuse. And someone made them believe that every drug user will abuse the drug and become a liability to society. And THAT is the crux of the matter.

It's the same thing with a lot of other 'problems'. Guns come to mind or people with unusual sexual tendencies. Somehow, the first thing people think about is 'Oh God, what if someone MAKES me participate? What if I become the VICTIM!!!11!!!'. It happened with homosexuals, it's happening now with pedophiles and private gun owners.

I mean most police officers don't do the job for the cash, as far as I'm informed, they don't make much money. Wouldn't you agree that they'd rather go after those who hurt and kill other people, rather than those who've been made into bogeymen?

Re:You almost have point... (1)

jobin (836958) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587305)

It happened with homosexuals, it's happening now with pedophiles and private gun owners.

The difference with pedophiles is that young children are incapable of making the decision to consent.

Re:You almost have point... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587307)

I mean most police officers don't do the job for the cash, as far as I'm informed, they don't make much money. Wouldn't you agree that they'd rather go after those who hurt and kill other people, rather than those who've been made into bogeymen?

They don't care, as long as they get to exercise authority over someone. Preferably being able to hit them a few times. A dream day they get to shoot someone.

They don't care about the actual situation.

Re:Arguably, we already do. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587339)

A big difference is that Creative Commons and other similar licenses seem to be enjoying quite a lot of traction (whereas the prohibition you talk about has no opt out alternative (short of moving to a country with more lax regulations, so maybe no 'easy' or 'simple' opt out)).

That doesn't mean that there will be fantastic textbooks available under open licenses tomorrow, but it means that it is something that can be gradually worked towards. I figure there will be a snowball effect, once a book becomes good enough to use, more people will use on it, leading more people to improve on it (and to work on other openly licensed material).

Re:Arguably, we already do. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587311)

2. With the current trend of Big Copyright, every written work must have an owner/copyright holder. Therefore, you do not own the books you have copies of.

Who modded this insightful? As much as I dislike the RIAA & software EULAs, you are completely wrong.

Every written work DOES have an owner, and a copyright holder (note that these can be two different people). It's been that way for centuries.

I DO own my textbooks. I bought them, they belong to me, and I even have a receipt. I can burn them, eat them, sell them, read them, stand on them, or do anything else. Any publisher/author who claims otherwise will be laughed out of court.

The only thing I can't legally do is make copies of the book & start selling the copies - this would be violating the copyright (yes, I know many students photocopy textbooks, but that doesn't make it legal).

You need to distinguish between the owner of a copy, and the owner of the copyright.

Already been done, and for free (2, Informative)

Mouldy (1322581) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586851)

Libraries anyone? During my 2nd year at uni (I didn't think of it for my first) I just got all the text books I needed from the library. Most of them were 4 week loans and could be renewed on the internet - so it wasn't really that much of a hassle.

Re:Already been done, and for free (5, Insightful)

Banzai042 (948220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586881)

Not all schools are as liberal with their policies as your school. Where I was students weren't allowed to remove library copies of the textbook from the building.

Re:Already been done, and for free (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587045)

My University had the most harebrained systems I have ever seen. Most books could be borrowed and kept for an entire semesters if needed. If you planned ahead you could even order your books so they were available for the start of the semester. One small problem, if someone else ordered it after you would get a letter demanding its return. Didn't matter whether you ordered yourself it or just picked it off the shelf you would have a week to return it. Consequently any book of any use or popularity was never available on the shelf but nobody ever had it for a period of time long enough to actually make use of it.

Unsurprisingly the 2nd hand book store nearby did quite well.

Re:Already been done, and for free (1)

cnvandev (1538055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587143)

This wouldn't be rated "Funny" if the mod knew just how sad and true this is. Even if the copies are available, the general feeling is you have to sneak around if you want to use a library to learn course material from.

Re:Already been done, and for free (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587317)

Why is this modded funny? Unfortunetly many school libraries only get one or two copies of each textbook and do not allow students to remove them from the building, no matter what.

Re:Already been done, and for free (4, Informative)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586929)

While your idea is fine, that only works for the 2-3 copies available. And some libraries only allows you to renew twice before you have to hand it in and wait for a period of time.

because they make new editions to thwart re-use (4, Interesting)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586869)

College textbooks have limited re-use because the publishers make new editions strictly of the purpose of obsoleting them so people don't buy used books and are forced (or at least encouraged) to buy new ones instead.

Renting something that only can be used 2-3 times means you end up paying a LOT to rent it. If the company who rents it is to make a profit, they have to charge a significant fraction of the price of the item to rent it.

For example, in the article, $69 (including shipping) to rent a book that retails for $123. You can probably find it used for $85 and sell it again when you are done (for peanuts).

Re:because they make new editions to thwart re-use (1)

XMLsucks (993781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587051)

How can you find a used book if a new edition came out? The nice thing about this service is that you can rent a new edition for $69 as opposed to buying it retail for $123, despite that there is *no* option to buy used. Of course, you could buy that new edition and resell it for lots, but then you have the burden of reselling it ... the renting makes it easier.

I kept most of my books. I thought I'd use them, but rarely have, and they just got in my way once I started moving around the world ... should have sold them when I had the chance.

Makes a nice proof that new ! old (4, Insightful)

rbrander (73222) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586903)

This is a business model that will be specifically forbidden with electronic books. And enforced by encryption or proprietary formats (which are, in a practical sense, the same thing), which in turn are protected by the DMCA.

To an economist, or public policy maker, that makes the new technology stand out like a sore thumb as not an improvement on the old.

This is an example that has been lost in other media as the new format offers many benefits over the old - the ability to have a movie at home at ALL, the ability to copy music easily and with no lost fidelity. But about all that electronic books give you over the old is a reduction in volume and weight (search capability, much overrated - books always had indexes and tables-of-contents, and besides, you're supposed to be learning the whole textbook).

The new media have only a few generations of history, most of it with shifting technologies - copying music at all was not possible for the general public until the cassette recorder in 1968.

But with electronic books, book rental couldn't exist, used book stores couldn't exist, and believe me, they'll be gunning for libraries themselves.

The dramatic contrast with centuries of tradition about how society does business with books might finally get it through politician's heads that enabling new, more restrictive copyrights is robbing the public.

Re:Makes a nice proof that new ! old (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586959)

With electronic textbooks, this model won't exist because publishers prefer selling subscriptions allowing access to their entire catalogue, rather than individual texts. They'd rather the institution buys one of the expensive subscriptions, which allows unlimited downloads of any eBooks. The value comes from a continual supply of new books being made available to subscribers, not from individual book sales.

Re:Makes a nice proof that new ! old (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587107)

"search capability, much overrated "

I alarmingly disagree, I've found countless books via google search via google books, try doing THAT in a library, really fucking time consuming. Anyone who thinks e-books are not a godsend in many ways (easier to copy, edit, update, etc) over dead-tree have not thought about it hard enough.

Wikibooks is a great example of the limitations of traditional books. Try mass collaboration on deadtree, going to be a lot less efficient.

Re:Makes a nice proof that new ! old (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587145)

search capability, much overrated - books always had indexes and tables-of-contents, and besides, you're supposed to be learning the whole textbook).

I have to disagree with this. Tables of contents only cover general topics, and indexes cover only a few hundred terms (an exhaustive index is by definition as long as the book itself). But what if you're interested in looking back at something you saw once and don't remember clearly? What if you're looking for an exact, specific formula, statistic or quote? And this all ignores, of course, that electronic search takes 3 seconds and gets you exactly where the searched term is, but with paper books it takes minutes (often to take a 30-second look at something. Talk about lost productivity). Also, in all of my school experiences, I've never once covered 100% of a textbook.

I do (1)

rodrigovr (1396497) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586931)

Every book I buy is "rent" to my family/friends and my girlfriend
For business, renting books would not be profitable because people will need much more time to read a book than they will need to watch a movie and take the DVD back.

Re:I do (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587071)

Every book I buy is "rent" to my family/friends and my girlfriend

Honestly, you'd make more money renting your girlfriend.

In France you get book loaned or rented (3, Interesting)

aepervius (535155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586947)

OK France is 1/5 of the size of the US so maybe it cannot be compared, but I know only France as education system. In the primary/secondary we got the book loaned and had only to pay up a fine if we scribled it or worsened its state. From high school (lycee) and especially university there were old book sold from student to the previous. Some shop even speciliazed into doing that (Gibert Jeune for example in Paris is where I got my expensive QM books...). Only around 1 year out of 4 to 6 years we had to buy new one because change in the programs. But all in one it came relatively cheap. And in case you are asking, that was 25 years ago.

Re:In France you get book loaned or rented (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 5 years ago | (#28586983)

I think this is mainly for university students. The system in canada is the similar to the one in France, until you're finished high school you don't have to buy text books normally.

Re:In France you get book loaned or rented (1)

Zey (592528) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587089)

In Australia, we were encouraged to buy textbooks in highschool and uni but not overly penalised if we bought second-hand. Assignment questions were handed out separately and not those from the book; the ones in the book we'd use during classes to revise with.

I'm very glad not to have had American university lecturers, from the sound of things.

Re:In France you get book loaned or rented (1)

sarathmenon (751376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587141)

The college where I studied in India has a similar system. There is a college managed "Book Bank" which cost some two dollars per semester and allowed me to rent 5 books per semester. There was no guarantee of getting a recent edition of any book, but that was okay because the new content could be photocopied from someone in the hostel. The whole thing sort of worked, and of cousre the part I am forgetting to say is that it was funded by government aid.

I could have afforded text books since most major publishers have discounted prices, but this was easier and lesser hassle ;)

Re:In France you get book loaned or rented (1)

Packet Pusher (231564) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587207)

Just for Fun, some numbers from Wikipedia

France 260,558 sq mi
US 3,794,066 sq mi

1/14th size of the US in square miles

US GDP 14,264,600
France 2,865,737

1/5th size of US in GDP

US population 298,213,000
France population 60,496,000

1/5th the size of US in population

Surface don't matter (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587279)

What count is (if I understood correctly) that you have one program per state. So on state level the size argument don't hold at all. What COULD be the biggest problem is 1) new edition every year and 2) state/school force use of the new edition instead of skipping once every 4 or 6 years. After all at ground school and at high school level, it ain't as if basic math, physic, reading, biology, history and geography were changing that much. Naturally if school let themselves get caught replacing book every year such program or business model don't make sense.

Re:In France you get book loaned or rented (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587213)

I don't really understand the American textbook system. Here in the UK, there are rarely any compulsory textbooks for any university lectures. The lecturer will present the material you need to know, and if you pay attention you will pass. If you want to do well, typically you are expected to read some things outside the lecture, but this can be from library books or other sources. There are typically a few recommended books for each module, and reading any one of these will benefit you. Lecturers provide lists of these books to the library, which ensure that there are half a dozen or so copies of each available.

There are some exceptions, especially in a subject like law, where certain books are viewed as indispensable resources and everyone is strongly encouraged to buy a copy and keep it as a reference for a large part of their professional career. There are a few books in computer science like this, for example the big white algorithms book, or something like Hennessy and Patterson for the more hardware-oriented. You won't be assessed on whether you've read these books, but if you have then you are likely to have a better grasp of the subject and do well in exams.

It seems that in the USA it is common for lecturers to set 'read chapter X' or 'do the questions from chapter Y' as assignments. This kind of thing doesn't happen here (except in things like literature courses, where you might be expected to prepare for a seminar on a given chapter of a specific book). If the students are expected to answer questions, these will have been set by the lecturer, not taken (directly) from a book. Occasionally they do come from books; in my first year Logic Programming module I discovered that the first coursework was to implement a worked example from a book I was reading. When I admitted this to the lecturer, his attitude was that I deserved the marks anyway for bothering to read a book on the subject...

Timeshared book rental (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28586991)

Most of the time, lectures cover all the material from the textbook, the text is mostly a fallback if the lecture's aren't clear.

The primary reason for having textbooks is that the assignments are based on text book chapters, if we could have a service which charges say a certain amount, maybe $0.10 per chapter question lookup and put that online, that would be much much more beneficial.

Bonus if they can also provide answers to the selected questions for (perhaps) a fee, that will cut down on google searches for solution sets. Now most of you are crying foul because of plagiarism, but face it if the student can't figure it out, they're doomed anyways, this is is more for the ambiguous questions where, "hey...I did it this way...but I'm not exactly certain they want it done this particular way", or "Gaaah!, This methods takes forever, is there a more slick way of doing this?"
 

2nd Hand book stores (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587009)

2nd hand book stores are common in poorer countries. At the university I attended, most students bought and sold their books at 2nd hand stores. It may be a new concept in the (formerly) rich USA...

Re:2nd Hand book stores (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587249)

There are plenty of second hand book stores, except not many that stock textbooks reliably. The only place you'll find the specialty editions for your school is the school bookstore, or maybe 1 off campus bookstore, but only if your professor notified them which book they needed. Only the official school bookstore gets the special editions (with enhanced resources in the appendices!) while the off campus bookstore has to sell the full version for a higher cost or wait until the books are used for a semester to sell them.

Their costs are your costs. (2, Interesting)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587099)

It doesn't matter how you slice it, the text book industry wants to get their $150/book/semester out of you. They don't really care how they get their income, as long as they get it. They'll either do it by making you buy a new book, which you can keep, or by charging you the same amount for a book that you can rent for the same amount of money, only now you have to turn it in when you're done, instead of having the option to keep it or sell it again.

Re:Their costs are your costs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587169)

The more things change, the more they stay the same. It's just school preparing you for real life.

nobody rents in europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587121)

nobody rents in europe, it's a dead market. for a good reason, not piracy but competition in dvd sale market. the US market is filled with single company monopoly's and thus people are more prone to download illegally from the web (us piracy numbers on average are higher than anywhere else, except for china *these people are starving to begin with...*)

Some Universities offer textbook rental (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587133)

I attended Eastern Illinois University, and I can't remember what the rate was, (I think around 200 bucks a semester) but you rented your books, and returned them at the end of the semester. This saved me a ton of money. If you did want the book, you had the option to purchase it at the end of the semester.

A personal anecdote (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587157)

When I was in college, during the Cretaceous period, we shared textbooks within our study groups. We then sold them to the next semester's students, if possible. Pissed off many published professors and the school bookstore.

Of course, back then, they were fragile clay tablets. Highlighting was a bitch.

Re:A personal anecdote (2, Funny)

omz13 (882548) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587251)

Highlighting was a bitch.

No chisels in the Cretaceous period then?

Copyright issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587211)

I believe there are copyright issues. As with movies, don't you need a special performance copy/license in order to rent it out? I'd imagine the same goes with books.

There is a difference between reselling a book, and renting it out. However, what harm would there be, if a student simply were to lend out a book, free of charge? Other than by the time it wears out, it's done for.

Printing Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587215)

I work at a college and have heard this from a lot of students. They do lots of bargain shopping. One thing we've seen a lot of as of late is profs who give their students PDFs of scanned pages and tell them to print that out in a lab.

Aside from some obvious issues on copyright, we're implementing a print management system this fall. Every student gets a quota per semester. If your prof just told you to print out a text book, are you going to waste most of your quota on that?

Re: We Rent Movies, So Why Not Textbooks? (1)

Terrorwrist (1376873) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587237)

We rent Textbooks, so why not the answers? If I am going to take the final tests, I dont need the answers after I am done with the exam. Every exam should have a model or unique numbers, that I can just type into google and get the answers hhahaa.

Some colleges are renting textbooks as well. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28587245)

The local Community College is experimenting with renting textbooks. The departments have to agree to use that edition for 3 years, which, I suppose, is why two of the three books are custom texts so the edition won't change. It's actually cheaper to buy a used text and sell it back to the store, but it's a cheaper up front cost for the rental. So far it seems to be working out ok, but it's only been running one semester.

The big scam to me isn't the textbooks, it's the online access codes that you have to buy for some classes. No way you can keep or sell back those!

It can be a hassle. (2, Interesting)

jrhawk42 (1028964) | more than 5 years ago | (#28587291)

Though I finished school a couple years ago getting books anywhere besides the two authorized campus book stores was a huge hassle. First they were the only places that could find out what books are needed for classes. Second they didn't include the ISBN numbers in the print out. Third they wouldn't let you know what books were needed for what class until about a week before classes started. So basically if you wanted to buy your books somewhere else you need to print out a sheet w/ all the books needed for your classes, find the books, and write in the ISBN numbers (or risk doing a title search), and then find them online, and hope your professor doesn't require the book for the first couple of weeks. One time I had a professor tell us to return our books to the bookstore, and buy them somewhere else. Also he said don't tell anyone this because he got into trouble w/ the university last semester since they run one of the bookstores. I don't know how many schools run their bookstores like this but I wouldn't be surprised if a majority of colleges do.
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