Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Student Bookstores Beware, Amazon Comes To Purdue Campus

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the saving-bucks-on-books dept.

Books 95

First time accepted submitter Kilroy1218 writes After freezing tuition past their original deadline Purdue University announced a partnership with Amazon today which aside from greatly competitive book pricing "will bring staffed customer order pickup and drop-off locations to Purdue's campus, as well as expedited shipping benefits phased in over the course of the 2014-2015 academic year." “This relationship is another step in Purdue’s efforts to make a college education more affordable for our students,” said President Mitch Daniels. “With the pressure on college campuses to reduce costs, this new way of doing business has the potential to change the book-buying landscape for students and their families.”

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Mitch Daniels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668047)

Breaking the racist Democrat Party of America's company store hold on the little man, one step at a time.

Re:Mitch Daniels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668345)

You seem like a pretty big deal. Can I suck your penis?

Lesson from a poor student (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668893)

When I was in college I had to pay every single cent of the school fees / book / a roof over my head / food, everything by myself
I had no parents to foot the bill for me nor any church or any charitable organization for I was a refugee from China freshly landed in America, and I was paying the "International Student" tuition fee which was 10X the school fee the "local students" were paying
Other than working 3 different jobs while studying full time, I had to find ways to skim on expenses, and one of the ways was on books
A lot of professors earn their side incomes by forcing students to get the latest edition of school text --- for example, Version 14 of an economic book
What I did was I went to old book stores and search for previous versions of the same book (by the same author), and bought version 5 of the same book (couples of years old, of course), and went back to the school, borrow the newest edition from my classmate and started a chapter by chapter (sometimes page by page) comparison.
Most often the difference between the old edition and the newest version was an additional chapter and/or some revisions of some other chapters, for those I simply xerox the pages from the new edition and clipped them onto the old edition that I bought
The difference in price however, was staggering. The latest edition might cost upwards to $150 or so, per book, while the old edition which I got from old book store may cost me only $12
Another method is to "borrow" the book from the school library and then "forget" to return that book for the entire semester
Those were amongst the many tricks I used to get by my college days

Re:Lesson from a poor student (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47671647)

> I simply xerox the pages from the new edition
thanks for confessing to a felony crime. please report to your nearest copyright enforcement center aka police department for processing.

Re:Lesson from a poor student (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 5 months ago | (#47681559)

That's not a felony. To be a felony, he'd have to distribute them to somebody else, among other things. That's copyright infringement, and the textbook publishers could sue and win, but it isn't criminal copyright infringement.

Re:Lesson from a poor student (1)

zeroduck (691015) | about 5 months ago | (#47682625)

This. Entirely.

Another few ideas from when I was in school:

  • Make friends. Split the cost of the book between two (or more) people. Or borrow it from someone who already took the class. Buy them a beer.
  • Amazon, eBay, or other online sellers are ALWAYS much cheaper than the bookstore. With the small caveat that if you're required to buy some online access code, you're fucked.
  • International editions are often much cheaper, and the covers in a foreign language are a good conversation starter.
  • Don't buy the book right away because sometimes the Prof doesn't even mention it in the class. It helps if you know someone who has already taken the class.
  • Sometimes there are better (free) resources available online (and this depends on how closely the prof follows the book).

Obviously, not all those apply if you want to keep the book. But, for the love of the FSM, don't shop at the campus bookstore unless you have no other option.

Misleading Freezing Statement (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668075)

They didn't change the tuition after a certain deadline, they extended the time within which their tuition won't change.

In addition, this doesn't do anything to change the book-buying landscape for students. Students always had the option of buying books online through Amazon.

Misleading Freezing Statement (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668455)

You know what else is going to happen...Amazon will temporarily save the students money, the prices will go down by cutting out the bookstore overhead, and the publishers will jack up (or off) their overpriced books so that they cost from Amazon what they did from ye olde bricke ande mortare store. And plenty of people will lose their jobs to the Amazon robots just as before.

Re:Misleading Freezing Statement (0)

sillybilly (668960) | about 5 months ago | (#47668785)

No kidding. Of course Amazon, once they centralize and own every single college and educational text book, via a newly patented kindle-like per click per page device, what do you think the prices will go to, under such a blackmail-prone situation? Infinity of course. Just like we have it with health care, in an exploitable, black mailable situation, the prices tend to infinity.

They are also upping tuition through the sky, so that this onslaught of everyone going to college, and ending up in college loans without a tangible job where they can pay it off, this mentality that a bachelor's is the new high school diploma, required to get a basic job, like flipping burgers, or operating a simple machine, disappears, and people don't waste 4 years of their lives going to college if they are not really gonna need it in the job market. That way college professors don't have to serve their customers in class by lowering the level of education to the lowest common denominator, to where everyone understands it, and truly talented people can reach their potential and benefit the rest of the economy, instead of wasting their talents and precious times in classes where the curriculum is set to fit even the dumbest of dumbest, as long as they could pony up the dough, or the loan to sit next to them. In some places around the world they used to have very severe college entrance exams, but that's not possible in the US because of the tremendous racial bias it would bring on, and instead you have to have things like sports scholarships, to even out the field and have an appropriate diversity. But then high tech companies suffer, who are way past their quota on H1B visas, for people that came from colleges and high schools that did not have this self-cock-block of let's make sure everyone equally smart, so we keep everyone equally dumb educational system mentality, but let the better ones excel, and pool the dumber ones together, in their own little world. That kind of setup is horrible too, for various reasons. But that kind of setup is what H1B visas are all about. Unfortunately. But I tell it like it is, I'm not passionate about it one way or another.

Re:Misleading Freezing Statement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668897)

I'm hoping classes aren't dumb downed. But anyways...

Do you see a problem with a bookshare system? Where students loan their textbooks to fellow students temporarily for a term? I assume those in a given major will opt to buy their own, rather than borrow a textbook. For free, unless the book is lost or damaged.

I figure the tuition the university brings in can cover the operating expenses of the bookstore in a worst case scenario.

Re:Misleading Freezing Statement (1)

buddyglass (925859) | about 5 months ago | (#47668527)

Students always had the option of buying books online through Amazon.

Not when I was in school we didn't. That said, yes, it's been an option for some time now. On the other hand, there's no guarantee every textbook will be available. Perhaps this agreement guarantees that any textbook assigned to a Purdue student will be carried. The university may also have negotiated a group discount.

Re:Misleading Freezing Statement (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 5 months ago | (#47670063)

Really douche bag? Most college textbooks are only available through the campus bookstore. They even try and cut down on the used book market with courses requiring students to purchase new editions. Take your head out of your ass. This is a good thing.

Re:Misleading Freezing Statement (1)

matbury (3458347) | about 5 months ago | (#47671213)

I don't think Amazon, as evil as they are, are the real culprit in this scenario. Educational publishing has always been used as a way to fleece learners for extra cash. I doubt Purdue are any exception. In contrast, non-profit, egalitarian educational publishing is quite different, e.g. a course text book, authored by one of the leading researchers in his field, is free to download and print as the whole book or chapter by chapter: http://www.aupress.ca/index.ph... [aupress.ca] It's Creative Commons licensed so learners can do whatever they like with it within the generous terms of the licence: http://creativecommons.org/lic... [creativecommons.org] They can also buy a professionally printed and bound copy of it for $39.95 CAD. All the publications from Athabasca University Press are like this. So why is Purdue charging $100s per student for text books? And why do we have to have new editions every year or so when undergraduate studies are mostly on topics and subject matter that are well-established and don't change very much?

All I can see here is Amazon trying to get a bigger foothold in the market for this cash cow.

How long before Amazon... (0)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 5 months ago | (#47668117)

How long before Amazon stops selling books to the Purdue students (and Amazon's contract with Purdue prevents anyone else from selling books to the Purdue students) because Amazon thinks the book prices are too high?

Hachete (3, Interesting)

goombah99 (560566) | about 5 months ago | (#47668229)

Will they allow professor's to assign Hachette textbooks? Can student's order Hachette study guides?

Re:Hachete (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668831)

Never mind that, will they stock Eats, Shoots & Leaves [wikipedia.org] and other guides to avoiding the use of the Grocer's Apostrophe [blogspot.com] ?


Re:How long before Amazon... (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 5 months ago | (#47669301)

If you are referring to the Hachette spat, you might want to reexamine your understanding of the situation - no Hachette books have been removed from sale, you can still buy every Hachette book that you could before. What Amazon did do is remove pre-orders from unreleased Hachette books - you can still buy them when they are released, they just aren't allowing you to preorder - they are under no obligation to allow preorders on books either.

Well (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about 5 months ago | (#47668119)

Unless they're going to buy the books back, student bookstores aren't going anywhere. Gotta do something with those $4-15k/yearly in books after you're done using them...and getting $250 back.

Re:Well (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 5 months ago | (#47668139)

Unless they're going to buy the books back, student bookstores aren't going anywhere.

Around here the buyback is done by folks who set tents up on the streetcorners, not the bookstore.

Re:Well (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 5 months ago | (#47670079)

Everywhere else, it's done by the bookstore.

Re:Well (4, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | about 5 months ago | (#47668203)

The US textbook market is crazy.

An easy example is Campbell's Biology Plus MasteringBiology - a pretty standard 1st year Biology textbook. Amazon UK [amazon.co.uk] price $87.56. Price for the US equivalent [amazon.com] is $190.40.

Re:Well (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668539)

It helps to make apples to apples comparisons - you are comparing a text alone to a text with online support suite, something that costs around $75-125 without buying the physical book.

Here's the probability text I'll be teaching out of this fall:
http://www.amazon.com/First-Course-Probability-9th/dp/032179477X/ $145.79
http://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Course-Probability-Sheldon-Ross/dp/032179477X/ $191.80

Similarly, here's the most popular 3-semester calculus text:
http://www.amazon.com/Calculus-James-Stewart/dp/0538497815/ $223.41
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Calculus-James-Stewart/dp/0538497815/ $270.53

Re:Well (1)

Albanach (527650) | about 5 months ago | (#47669479)

I believe I linked to both copies that included the MasteringBiology. The only difference seemed to be that US one might have a copy of the text as an e-book. I doubt making an encrypted PDF or equivalent merits the huge price difference.

Still your comment about the probability book is interesting. I wonder if this is particular to mathematics?

Here' s another example from Chemistry: Organic Chemistry by Bruice. In the US it's hardcover, in the UK paperback.

Amazon UK [amazon.co.uk] price $99.96
Amazon US [amazon.com] price $240.60

it's possible that the difference is the publisher. Coincidentally, the two books I list are published by Pearson who are headquartered in the UK. It may be they price their books for the independent markets, whereas US publishers are more likely to stick to one price? That's pure speculation though and we'd need quite a few more data points to figure that one out.

At least amazon has a motivation to lower prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47670147)

At least Amazon, as a competitor, has a motivation to lower prices. The incumbent publishers have been raping Americans for half a century. Why does the 7th edition of stewart's calculus cost $201? Well, we picked the book because it's the best (we don't have to buy it; the department buys my copy) and I'm pretty sure Dr. Stewart isn't making most of that $200.

Re:At least amazon has a motivation to lower price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47670683)

Before you spout such stupid bullshit, it would help to look things up (Stewart is the best? Gimme a break, I teach calculus, too, by the way). And Stewart made about $30M on his worthless creation. Maybe he does not make all $200 on it but he sure makes enough. It would also help if Stewart was at least familiar with th material he is trying to teach in his ... book. There are a number of wrong proofs and silly arguments in it (say the proof of the second derivative test for functions of two variables).

Re:Well (4, Funny)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 5 months ago | (#47668671)

It costs extra to have editors redact all the bits about evolution.

Re:Well (1)

rgbscan (321794) | about 5 months ago | (#47670073)

I always buy a used book from Amazon. Anyone paying full sticker at the campus book store is getting robbed. Last years edition is almost always fine (unless the instructor is using the accompanying courseware - but generally my school has stayed away from that). The ebooks especially are a bad deal since you just rent them and can't re-sell them.

For my statistics class this fall the text is: Statistical Techniques in Business and Economics 16th Edition, ISBN 0078020522. $292 at the campus bookstore, $248 new at Amazon, $227 used at Amazon. Previous edition (15e - approved by Instructor) used at Amazon? $44 bucks.

I've done this through all 4 years of school and am about to graduate. Only twice did I have instructors require the on-line courseware. At $100 bucks a pop, it was still cheaper just to buy the code by itself and go with the older edition book.

Re:Well (1)

thieh (3654731) | about 5 months ago | (#47668227)

At least it is better than Aspen where you pay them money and you have to return the case book at the end of the term

$4-15K/year (2)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | about 5 months ago | (#47668239)

Holy Cow! What is your course of study where the books are that much?

I don't know what the books cost - my kid handles it himself, but I haven't heard the outcry I would expect for a 2nd year Mechanical Engineering major to be screaming if it were anywhere near that.

At any rate, I do know that he buys his books "online" (Amazon and others) and may or may not sell them at the end of the term, since the online purchases were so much cheaper to start with vs list price at the campus book store.

(Not to mention the nasty habit of "revisions" happening all the time. I do remember one $200-ish AP Chem book for HS we got online for quite a bit less... had the same material, but the pg numbers were off and the exercises were a bit different... obvious changes to make the book "obsolete". I wonder how much is the Author and how much is the Publisher making these minor tweaks to create artificial obsolescence?)

Re:$4-15K/year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668385)

I'm not sure about Chemistry in particular, but for math textbooks, it is largely about the rapidity with which answer keys leak online.

Re:$4-15K/year (5, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 months ago | (#47668525)

Another shady practice is faculty writing their own textbook and then requiring it be used when they teach related courses, when it appears there's a well-accepted standard text in use by 90% of other schools where the particular subject is taught.

Re:$4-15K/year (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 5 months ago | (#47668867)

Another shady practice is faculty writing their own textbook and then requiring it be used when they teach related courses, when it appears there's a well-accepted standard text in use by 90% of other schools where the particular subject is taught.

While in some cases this may actually be "shady," if a professor writes a book that actually gets published by reputable publisher, then you may be getting something that's more relevant and tailored to the class you're actually taking, rather than some generic textbook. (Only once, in grad school, did I ever purchase a book authored by the professor that I thought was completely useless -- we only used it for about a week of the class. But that also was not a textbook -- it was a monograph, and I now know the royalty rates for books like that, which are pretty darn minimal for academic books. This professor wasn't exactly making a lot of money off of having the 8 students in her grad seminar buy the book.)

As an undergrad, I don't remember so much of that, though. (My profs who actually wrote textbooks were mostly respected leaders in their fields and thus were actually the primary authors of the "well-accepted standard text," but that has to do with where I went to undergrad.) I do remember quite a few times when a professor would require a "coursepack" that was printed at the campus bookstore or some nearby printshop which was often a small fraction of the price that an actual textbook would be. Sometimes it was a collection of readings, and sometimes it was just the professor's notes. But I was generally glad to shell out less money for that than for an actual textbook.

I would also note that I've taught at the university level, and I've been involved in preparing coursepacks and have used them myself. In that case, I can assure you that even though you're getting a printout of my notes and handouts, etc., and maybe some exercises I've designed, I'm making NO profit whatsoever from it. The cost of the coursepack is almost always determined by the printing and binding cost, along with any rights secured by the printshop to reproduce selected readings, articles, etc. Maybe some professors get some kickback from it, but I certainly don't, and I'm not sure I could even request that at the printshop without doing something sketchy.

Perhaps you had some professors who were actually making extra money by publishing through a "vanity press" and then forcing you to buy their book -- if so, I do think that's a bit shady.

Re:$4-15K/year (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 5 months ago | (#47668929)

By the way, after I wrote my comment, I did some searching. Until now, I was not aware of how "customized textbook editions" for specific universities has apparently become a thing [wsj.com] in some places.

Needless to say, I'm appalled by this if it involves professors getting a kickback for including a chapter of their own in the "customized" edition. In my field, to my knowledge the standard intro textbooks have never come in any sort of "customized edition," so I didn't even know this was possible.

I could possibly see the justification for customizing a book to suit a particular syllabus, and as I could see how that might be useful. But if my department were getting a kickback for that, I'd feel very weird about that. And I probably wouldn't do that myself, because I have actually been rather sensitive to book prices in my classes and wouldn't want to prevent students from buying a used copy or selling theirs if they wanted to. (I'd rather prepare my own supplements anyway.)

Also, I do know there was a federal law passed a few years ago that required disclosure of textbook requirements from colleges ahead of time, so students would know what is actually required and there could be better monitoring of textbook abuses... I just had no idea things were this crazy.

Re:$4-15K/year (1)

wwphx (225607) | about 5 months ago | (#47673341)

I was taking a refresher algebra course at NMSU, not advanced stuff. Used copies of the text were in the campus bookstore at over $100 a pop. Looking up the ISBN on Amazon? Nothing. Turns out that NMSU provided about 10 pages of additional questions at the end of the book, making it unique.

Rat bastards, all of 'em.

Re:$4-15K/year (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 5 months ago | (#47669645)

As a counter-annecdote: when I was taking a course in Fourier theory, the professor teaching the course was in the process of writing his own textbook on the subject. Each week or so we got a printed copy of the appropriate chapter. He had been working on it for a while, and it was more or less complete: with huge numbers of embedded mathematics (including lengthy derivations), graphs produced in Matlab, all properly typeset using LaTeX. It was a fantastic "text" (although not exactly in book form), and better than the actual assigned text. It cost us, the students, nothing (other than the costs of being a grad student, monetary and otherwise).

Just for the heck of it, I did some searching to see if he ever got it published. It's available for pre-order [amazon.com] now (more than a decade since I took the course). I guess it'll be the required text now, and retails north of $100, but at least it will be good.

Re:$4-15K/year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47671893)

they did that at my old university (computer science department) only they have you the PDF of the 200odd page book for that module, and then spent the lectures going through its content of the book.

the advantage was that the book was entirely relevant to the module (no trying to figure out which bits to revise) and as it was given as a free PDF, you could print it and scribble all over it in lectures for the princely sum of a wad of paper and some printer ink.

it probably helped that most the lecturers were respected academics who had been published anyway, so could write a suitably high standard book on the subject matter though, wouldn't work so well for the grad-student-teaching-a-module approach

Re:$4-15K/year (3, Informative)

anarcobra (1551067) | about 5 months ago | (#47668557)

When I was doing Electrical Engineering we needed about 10 to 15 books per year on average I think. Each book was between 100 and 200 Euros on average. Of course there were the usual texts by the professor or whatever, but those weren't that expensive usually. As you can imagine, by the second year most students didn't bother buying all the books anymore. Usually all you needed was the slides and maybe a couple of pages of the book that you could copy from somewhere. If during the classes you noticed that the book really would be useful, that's when you'd buy it.

Re:$4-15K/year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47669901)

I just graduated in EE, and the last three years of school I just bought the indian international copy for $40 instead of the hardback version for $250. For some classes I "found" a digital copy, threw it on my ipad, and used that in class, and even on tests. I wised up, and flat out refused to pay hundreds of dollars for classes that haven't changed. Engineering, physics, and math, for the most part haven't changed, at least relating to what's taught in classes. A basic circuits class is the same now as it was 30 years ago, although the book now has lots of color pictures and glossy paper. I don't need that, and refused to pay for it.

I even ended up using my dad's engineering books from the 80's because back then most books were still hand illustrated, and the authors had to use text instead of pictures to describe everything in detail. And if I really needed the book, and couldn't find it online, I'd just borrow it from a friend, scan it, convert it to PDF, and then share it with my classmates. The book publishing racket needs to slowly die out. They are clinging to an antiquated business model, and amazon, and the internet, are dragging them kicking and screaming into the future.

Modern students don't buy books anymore. One student buys/torrents the book, and the rest copy it. And professors really don't care what you do, as long as you pass the class.

Re:$4-15K/year (2)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 5 months ago | (#47668899)

Not to mention the nasty habit of "revisions" happening all the time. I do remember one $200-ish AP Chem book for HS we got online for quite a bit less... had the same material, but the pg numbers were off and the exercises were a bit different... obvious changes to make the book "obsolete". I wonder how much is the Author and how much is the Publisher making these minor tweaks to create artificial obsolescence?

I know some people who have written standard textbooks in a couple different fields. The general impression I've gotten from them is that they are usually NOT in favor of creating new editions all the time. Generally there are some kinks to work out in the first edition, but definitely by the second or third edition, things should be pretty set. The authors I've talked to have mentioned they are often under pressure from publishers to make changes to justify new editions. And, in fact, that's often why you see books start to accumulate new authors after a few editions -- it used to be "Intro to X by A" and now it's "Intro to X by A and B, 4th ed." and then a few years later it's "Intro to X by A, B, and C, 9th ed." Sometimes the old authors just think the book is fine, and they finally say no to doing anything new, so the book gets handed off to someone else to "revise" and bring in some new ideas or exercises.

People often overestimate the profits that professors earn from textbooks. Sure, those who write the really standard books in very popular fields (like the standard intro calc or bio textbooks or whatever) are probably making a lot of royalties. But once you get beyond those intro classes or get into more obscure fields, the number of copies sold may not be that big, particularly if there is competition among textbooks (which there usually is, even in smaller fields).

I'm not saying they aren't making money. But I've heard from multiple textbook authors (smaller markets) that they aren't making enough money to justify doing new editions and revisions as much as publishers would like them to. And keep in mind that most academics see their jobs as primarily research, not textbook writing, so they'd rather be doing something for real in their field rather than coming up with another set of stupid exercise questions for an intro book.

So, I'd say publishers are definitely in favor of creating artificial obsolescence. Authors? Maybe sometimes, but not as often as you might think.

Re:Well (2)

hazem (472289) | about 5 months ago | (#47668797)

Amazon already buys a lot of textbooks back, and for about the same crummy price the school bookstore gives you. If you look over at the right side, there's often a "trade in your item" with a proposed price.

Re:Well (1)

ArmoredDragon (3450605) | about 5 months ago | (#47668975)

Actually Amazon usually gave me WAY better buyback rates than that eFollett shit store that holds a monopoly on most campuses. Granted Amazon's buybacks were in the form of Amazon gift cards, it wasn't a bad deal at all considering that you just reinvest that money into new books on Amazon, which were always cheaper anyways. And even if you didn't do that, I can't think of any one product I'd use that I can't find on Amazon, who usually ends up being cheaper than B&M stores anyways.

(Oh, and that eFollett company claims rather boldly that their book prices are low priced, when in reality they're perhaps the most expensive book store that exists. What's shitty is they're almost always the exclusive seller of those one off books that your professor may have written himself, and they sometimes won't even buy them back, or if they do it's at a stupidly low price.)

Re:Well (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#47669797)

Unless they're going to buy the books back, student bookstores aren't going anywhere. Gotta do something with those $4-15k/yearly in books after you're done using them...and getting $250 back.

If your student bookstore will buy the book back, Amazon probably will too. The bookstore won't even always take the books, e.g. if they don't think they can sell them. Meanwhile, you are free to list your book on Amazon yourself, and Amazon will help you sell it to another student.

Beware? (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 5 months ago | (#47668123)

College bookstores have already become "fan gear" outlets instead of "book" stores due to online retailers. At least at our local university, which used to have a really good trade book section, and now has nothing other than texts, with a limited number of those. Amazon won this battle a long time ago, the bookstores just haven't quite figured out they are dead yet. Except when they change to become licensed sales outlets for branded fan items.

Re: Beware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668195)

And hopefully with the rules and other court case players on the football and basketball teams will not need make work jobs in them


Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668129)

I just visited http://purdue.amazon.com/ and they're offering way more than just books.

Like look at those designer hipster shoes! That's EXACTLY what a cash-strapped college student should be spending his student loans on. Those shoes will really make him ironically stand out, while emphasizing the tolerance and uniqueness he embodies.

And look at those trendy designer notepads! That's EXACTLY what a cash-strapped college student should be spending her student loans on. Those pink, purple and light blue notepads will really enhance her ability to record lectures, and will surely boost her studying capacity and efficiency.

Then there's the gold Playstation controller. It's just sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!

Where's the money? (3, Informative)

Nate the greatest (2261802) | about 5 months ago | (#47668143)

Here's an interesting detail not in the original post. According to what the bookstore director told me, the UC Davis bookstore only earned around $140 thousand in affiliate commissions in the first 6 months. Considering that the bookstore had revenues of around 20 million dollars last fiscal year (July to June 2014), the partnership doesn't look like it is worth anything to the bookstore. http://the-digital-reader.com/... [the-digital-reader.com]

Re:Where's the money? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668549)

You are comparing revenues to profits. $140k in commissions looks a lot nicer than $0 in commissions for those that buy from Amazon and at 2 percent commission, the revenues through this portal amounted to $7 million, or about 1/3 of the amount sold directly.

Re:Where's the money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668739)

Bookstores are typically not run by the respective campus - rather - they are usually tied into other larger purchasing agreements. i.e. A department in the institution doesn't run the bookstore, but have complete control over it, as you control a larger contract. Typically, these contracts are tied to other wares that a proponent may wish to sell - e.g. computers.

"So, you want to sell us 10,000 PC's?" Run our bookstore.

Srsly. It's a loss-leader.

Re:Where's the money? (1)

drew870mitchell (2523490) | about 5 months ago | (#47670523)

Do you have a vendetta against Amazon? I was about to call you out for mixing semiannual and annual, and profits and revenues, but then I recognized your name from your front page submission "Why the Public Library Beats Amazon."

Re:Where's the money? (1)

Nate the greatest (2261802) | about 5 months ago | (#47676637)

A vendetta? Not at all. I just thought that was an interesting detail which might interest slashdotters. If it came out badly phrased then it was because I was distracted by other things.

Burn in hell (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668183)

Every university bookstore and publisher of college textbooks.

Burn in bloody fucking hell.

Re:Burn in hell (1, Flamebait)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#47668559)

Dude just get a student loan. $500 a semester for books won't kill you (yeah, it truly is a ripoff, but it's not worth getting emotional about).

Re:Burn in hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668751)

what crap courses did you take that only cost $500 in texts?!


Re:Burn in hell (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 5 months ago | (#47668835)

I wish I had taken welding.

Re:Burn in hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47670809)

When were you last in college? 500 bucks would have just about covered my bill when I was in college in the early 90s for about 5 classes with some extra for whatever. My wife who is taking some classes now. That *might* cover 1-2 classes. A bog standard econ book costs 250 bucks. It is on its 23rd edition last time I checked. They really needed 23 revisions? 'But the problems in the book are different'. Why not break those out into a separate work book like the one they make you buy anyway (80 dollars) and the website login they make you buy if it is used (120 dollars)? Oh you want to make sure when I sell it back I get 5 dollars and it cant be used next year. Oh and the book is not radically different than the 30 dollar version I had in 92. Quite literally the books cost more than the course. That was 1 class.

Try more like 1200 bucks a semester. Or about 10k for 4 years. With borderline usury rates on that loan it will cost you about 30k to pay back after all the interest they tack on.

With the 'magic' of the internet book sellers have managed to really crank up the already stupid rates they had on their books. It was not even that good when *I* went to school in the 90s. It was obviously a scam then too.

Mitch the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668225)


Came close to ruining Indiana (not that much was there to ruin) and now his crab-pinchers are choking Purdue to death... Happy I'm not a Boilermaker.

Re:Mitch the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668391)

You're a Purdue English prof, aren't you? Mitch i saving the students money by cutting back on extraneous things like HIS OWN SALARY. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Mitch the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47669603)

Awe, look at you, posting your little Wikipedia references and all.

why the fuck cant purdue (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668231)

do this themselves... negotiate best prices possible for the books, even better than amazon or anyone else.. i mean, *they* are the ones generating the revenue for the publishers.. how is it even possible for amazon to get lower prices? if one publisher dont play ball, you fire them and go with someone else that's cheaper for similar material. easy peasy. fuck amazon. keep commercial shit like that off campus, please.

Re:why the fuck cant purdue (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47668389)

they get kickbacks and some professors write there own books and force you to buy new ones each year or you fail the class.

Re:why the fuck cant purdue (2)

digsbo (1292334) | about 5 months ago | (#47668397)

You're kidding, right? Don't you know there are gentlemen's agreements between doctoral programs and publishers and schools to require the "newest" edition of the book each year just so the publisher and PhD can charge for new books which have changed only to change pagination? You think they'd actually want to save kids money? Do you also believe that universities want to educate students to help them think critically and independently?

Re:why the fuck cant purdue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668579)

They adopt new editions because they cannot ensure that students have access to older editions. The changes in frequently revised books (Calculus, intro Bio, Chem, etc) are largely the exercises whose solution keys have leaked online. Textbooks for majors are revised more rarely because the cost to edit and publish is too high to justify a rapid update unless there is legitimately new material to add and/or the focus of the field has shifted (e.g. Point Set Topology being superseded by Algebraic Topology in terms of active research).

Re:why the fuck cant purdue (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about 5 months ago | (#47670827)

They adopt new editions because they cannot ensure that students have access to older editions.

Baloney. I was in college long enough to see MULTIPLE examples of books with swapped chapters 2-3 every edition. 2 editions old was identical to current. And there's NO REASON to swap the chapters except to cause pagination confusion, and require the new edition. Most of the books for math and science had answer keys in the back. Texts for majors are revised more infrequently because there's not as much profit to be made in books that only 4% of the students will buy, so resources are put toward the general ed and widely used texts.

Re:why the fuck cant purdue (1)

hazem (472289) | about 5 months ago | (#47668807)

I suspect because Purdue is in the business of selling education services and not being a book vendor. They'd have to hire people to be experts in the business of book sales. It's the same way that most universities don't grow their own food or grow their own forests to build the desks and tables. Sure they could do that, but it's typically more efficient to leave it someone who specializes in that particular thing.

As a book vendor, Amazon has so much more clout than a single university. Maybe a university has 500 students needing to buy a calculus book. Amazon maybe has a market of 500,000 students to sell a calculus book to. They have a lot more leverage than a single university does.

Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whips (1)

MAurelius (565652) | about 5 months ago | (#47668305)

My only reaction to this piece is: why is Amazon investing and 're-inventing' 19th-century technology? Why do major universities of the world even have paper textbooks? Their professors' course material should all be online, and in many cases it already is. That way it is accessible to everyone who needs it and pays for it. (no back orders!) The other benefit is that the author can update the text to reflect new information, and everyone has the new version instantaneously. And no more rapacious profits for publishing companies who push new, trivially updated editions of standard textbooks upon academic departments which then force students to buy them.

Re:Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whi (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 5 months ago | (#47668395)

Or you can pay $15-$20 more for a hard copy that you own and can resell and never gets locked out.

Re:Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668447)

Perhaps because the students are far more likely to actually open a paper textbook than the DRM encumbered eBooks. If the professor is building the course from scratch, then putting his or her notes online makes sense, but a textbook is not just notes, it is (or should be) a valuable reference to complement what is covered in class. It would also be silly to continually reinvent the wheel by having all professors write their own textbooks. If they don't write their own, they must reward the peer who wrote it, else everyone will play the "not it" game and it won't be written. My hope is that the transition to online homework systems may remove the main impetus for rapid revision - refreshing the problem sets in introductory courses as their keys leak.

Re:Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whi (1)

afgam28 (48611) | about 5 months ago | (#47668501)

In my experience ebooks are great for things like novels, where it's mostly paragraph after paragraph of text. But for textbooks that have a lot of images, tables, diagrams, mathematical formulae, source code snippets, etc. the formatting doesn't always come out looking nice.

I think the epub format is basically zip'd html, and the kindle format is not that different. Text gets resized and reflowed according to the reader's screen size, and this means that things move around and don't look the way the author or publisher intended them to. I imagine this would be a problem for a lot of university textbooks, especially in fields like science.

Re:Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whi (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 5 months ago | (#47668705)

You think right. HTML is a content markup language, not a format-preserving one. And when you're dealing with varying display sizes, that can be an advantage, although there's also an option to make PDF documents reflow.

The main problems come from graphics, which typically either get butchered or displayed at unreadable sizes.

If the book's graphics were designed with smaller screen sizes in mind, it's possible to make them more readable, but of course, there are limits.

Re:Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whi (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 5 months ago | (#47681609)

Also, it's real easy to go to the next or previous page on my Nook. It's hard to jump around, like I tend to do for technical books. I much prefer those to be paper.

Re:Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whi (3, Insightful)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 5 months ago | (#47668681)

Their professors' course material should all be online, and in many cases it already is. That way it is accessible to everyone who needs it and pays for it.

For the life of the course. If, Chthulu forbid! you actually intended to learn something from the course, and wanted to go back and review material after the term ended, often your online resources have been terminated.

I've got books from courses taken years ago, since I tended not to sell back. They aren't even remotely related to my career or daily life. But occasionally I'll take one off the shelf and page through one. They're a lot more entertaining now that I'm not under pressure to use them for class.

Re:Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whi (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 5 months ago | (#47670109)

You really don't understand how the textbook publishing business work do you. Go do some research then come back and post. 19th century technology, really, try the internal combustion engine....moron....

Re:Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whi (1)

MAurelius (565652) | about 5 months ago | (#47675347)

I much prefer the thoughtful posts prior to yours that helped me understand the limitation of current e-book technology such as formatting problems and other limitations, such as expiration of access to the electronic textbook. You chose to call me a moron. That really doesn't advance the discussion. As far as "19-century technology," I am talking about the modern idea of mass-produced textbooks for use in schools, with machine-made bindings, pages of paper, not velum or papyrus, along with layouts, graphics, tables of contents, indices, that we would recognize. I'm not talking about Gutenberg's Bible. If you're such an expert on the textbook publishing business, please enlighten us with your gift of knowledge. I do know this: textbooks as currently conceived are an anachronism and will be largely supplanted by electronic media in some form in the next 50 years. Anachronism. That's a big word. You might want to look it up. Unless you work for a big publishing house, in which case you don't want to know what that means, because you have a vested interest in ass-raping a few more generations of college students. Amazon may have it's disadvantages, but watching it eat the lunch of self-serving dicks like you is quite satisfying.

Re:Newsflash! Amazon to Provide Discount Buggy Whi (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 5 months ago | (#47681629)

Actually, with 21st-century technology, a book like that isn't all that expensive to produce, even in relatively small quantities. Providing a textbook in electronic form really isn't going to save the publisher much money. Therefore, it isn't going to change textbook prices much, since the difference in costs is trivial compared to what they charge.

The issue is that students are effectively forced to buy stuff at monopoly prices.

Why is this 'Student Bookstores Beware'? (1)

zennling (950572) | about 5 months ago | (#47668399)

Do the student bookstores have anything to do with setting the price? Is it not the publishers setting a large % of the price? Amazon can just beat them over the head with its purchasing power until the price per unit becomes acceptable. Why not re-jig these student bookstores to be the 'staffed customer order pickup and drop-off locations' for Amazon, instead of what sounds like replacing them with a new storefront?

/. broken? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668567)

This was posted over an hour ago, and there are no comments yet. Let's see if posting works...

Nyou FAIL it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668587)

has been my 0nly

Hey Purdue! (1)

ZipK (1051658) | about 5 months ago | (#47668597)

How about you really help students save by encouraging your faculty to develop and use open source text books?

Re:Hey Purdue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47668635)

It will cost about the same - instead of paying for textbooks directly, tuition will rise to pay for course releases for faculty to develop these books. It might save money statewide it if all universities in Indiana then adopted that textbook, but locally, it would probably be a wash.

Another idea that would be interesting is to see what kind of lump sum royalty the UC's, UT's, or SUNY's could get if they declared that they were done with the rapidly revised edition game and solicited prices from publishers to open up their existing textbooks to the world, allowing anyone to expand on and republish the contents. If you asked for a bid on e.g. the standard calculus sequence and then had Larson, Stewart, and Thomas submit the prices, knowing that their royalties will plummet after their competitor is available for free, the cost might turn out to be reasonable.

Re:Hey Purdue! (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 5 months ago | (#47668737)

I recently was affronted by a "modern" Spanish-language course. The actual books were awful, the course itself was online - a very bad idea, I think for a subject where the ultimate test in mastery is how well you can converse with teachers and fellow students. And this particular abomination is the almost universal text for colleges in about 5 states. Oh, and this is one of those courses where half your learning materials disappear in a puff of smoke at the end of the term.

Spanish is a living language and is used in the contexts of changing cultures, so its textbooks do need updating occasionally. However, the fundamentals remain the same and there's no reason why an open-source, even crowd-sourced text couldn't be adopted. Certainly no reason for it to require a multi-decade mortgage to buy.

The same can be said for a lot of mathematics.

Other subjects are more volatile and it makes sense to have specialized, continually-updated texts. And to have to pay for it. But give us a break on the basics!

Re:Hey Purdue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47673383)

But then they just get tacked on to student loans, and we all know that's just free money.

And They'll Do What? (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 5 months ago | (#47668691)

Anally rape you harder than the student bookstores do? I doubt it. College was a couple decades ago for me and my ass still hurts.

College students smarter than this (1)

musth (901919) | about 5 months ago | (#47668817)

"The book-buying landscape for students and their families" has already been changed, by torrents and usenet.

Re:College students smarter than this (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 5 months ago | (#47670125)

Yeah 'cuz all your textbooks are available via torrents....*eye roll*

Retail moves to national chain ... (1)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | about 5 months ago | (#47669317)

Retail moves to national chain ... news at 11!

If universities were serving students interests... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47669947)

They would be supporting, collaborating on, and using freely available textbooks.
[Efforts such as http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Main_Page]

Unfortunately students are usually new to the political game and aren't adept at bringing political pressure to bear. The cynical me wants to say it is part of the process of recieving an 'education'.

'swhat happens to FBS schools with bad football (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47670449)

Purdue hasn't had a winning Big 10 record since 2006 [wikipedia.org] , when they went 5-3.

You want cheaper textbooks? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 5 months ago | (#47670479)

Except for rapidly-evolving subjects, encourage professors to use "old" textbooks or, whatever the subject matter, encourage professors to use "open source" textbooks when they are available.

If publishers balk at reprinting old textbooks at "old prices," lobby Congress to allow colleges to reprint old textbooks and pay a royalty based on the lowest published price during the book's lifetime.

Under this kind of "book market" most Freshman and Sophomores won't have more than 1 or 2 classes where they have to buy expensive textbooks.

As for the interactive software that increasingly accompanies college textbooks and in many cases is part of the reason they are so expensive - college professors need to decide if the software is cost-effective before recommending it. In some cases, it might be cost-effective but in most cases outside of specialized situations or advanced coursework, it won't be.

Root Cause (1)

Orio6284 (3785111) | about 5 months ago | (#47670555)

This doesn't fix the root cause of the problem. Why are text books so expensive? You can purchase textbooks from over seas with the nice logo above the UPC code that says "NOT FOR SALE IN THE UNITED STATES". Text books over seas are drastically lower in price. The information on the pages are exactly the same as the book you would buy in the US. Why can the publisher charge more for the same information? Why not find cheaper ways for producing the books? Change the paper, ink, revisions, etc. All this does is change the vendor and reduce the amount of overhead for the textbook. The college is doing what it can to reduce the cost. But if the colleges put pressure on the publishers things might change.

UT Austin outsourced bookstore to Barnes&Noble (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 5 months ago | (#47670671)

I presume others had too. UT made there old bookstore a giant souvenor/brand-wear shop.

An End to the Bookstore Mafia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47670865)

Hey University Bookstore? Remember when you successfully lobbied to shut down the low-cost seller of Purdue merc that set up shop next to you in '06?

Pretty nasty precedent you set.

Books (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47670909)

I never bought/sold a single book to/from the college bookstore. What a rip off, both ways.

Amazon and EBay (had some off-shoot media site, not the main auction site). Paid far less for my books and sold them for at least twice as much as the bookstore would have given.

Used to tell lots of people but sadly, most did not care - lets face it - most of them were spending other peoples money anyway.

Sending in my application today (1)

websta (920096) | about 5 months ago | (#47678999)

Wasn't planning on trying to go there, but I am now.

Amazon @ Purdue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47694479)

Hmmm, wasn't it Mitch Daniels who worked a deal with Amazon to collect sales tax on Indiana sales?
Wonder what incentives the deal included...

Now controlling what publishers are used (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47705231)

So, does this mean no books from Hachette (or whatever publisher Amazon is currently battling) will be able to be included on the curriculum?

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?