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The books are written by professors and they don't have enough money.:eek:
 

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Maybe I am getting too old.. but why is it that books for college are so frigging expensive. They don't sell books at the book store for a $100 +

What's the deal?
I once worked with a couple of guys that were textbook salesmen to the various Boards of Education. They used to laugh themselves silly over the markups!

Later I had experience with them. The electronic store I worked for carried a lot of computer text books used in some Mohawk College courses. The folks doing the ordering obviously had no real buyer experience at all. We had to tell THEM when their quantities earned a discount! They had no clue that it even mattered.

The short answer is they are so frigging expensive because they can get away with it!

Anytime I sold anything to any government type customer I was always amazed at how inept their system was at getting things ordered to have the delivery they needed and/or to have the best price.

Purchasing was obviously just a menial clerical job to them. They thought it was like the old days of Consumer Distributing, where you would scratch your order on the little form with a pencil, hand it to the young lad behind the counter and wait while he shuffled into the back to get your stuff.

It's no wonder our taxes are so high! Hundred dollar bandaids for hospitals, anyone?:eek:

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Maybe I am getting too old.. but why is it that books for college are so frigging expensive. They don't sell books at the book store for a $100 +

What's the deal?
Supply and demand. When you write a book and only a handful of people are going to buy it, you have to charge more for it just to recoup the costs of manufacturing, distribution and salary. Take an opus like Sedra & Smith's Microelectronics. This is a staple of electrical engineering courses in North America. A best seller. How many copies is it going to sell in a year? Maybe 10,000? That's a paltry number of books. And when you consider the geographical area they have to cover. Shipping 50 books to Thunder Bay. 50 books to Nippising. 50 books to Newfoundland. That they can make any money is surprising.
 

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Supply and demand. When you write a book and only a handful of people are going to buy it, you have to charge more for it just to recoup the costs of manufacturing, distribution and salary. Take an opus like Sedra & Smith's Microelectronics. This is a staple of electrical engineering courses in North America. A best seller. How many copies is it going to sell in a year? Maybe 10,000? That's a paltry number of books. And when you consider the geographical area they have to cover. Shipping 50 books to Thunder Bay. 50 books to Nippising. 50 books to Newfoundland. That they can make any money is surprising.
And how many students in Toronto, Ottawa, London, etc.?

If they central purchased in one large quantity they could have the orders broken down and drop-shipped to the many schools, including those in smaller communities.

Furthermore, today 10,000 copies is no longer a paltry number! Modern computer and manufacturing techniques have slashed away the old idea of one big printing press cranking out one large production run 'cuz it cost so much to reset the letter blocks.

Ever hear of http://www.lulu.com ?

The world has changed, and the school boards are still back in the 60's. You just echoed the standard line given by the text book sellers. The same lines my salesman buddies gave to the school textbook buyers and laughed about that evening at the local salesmen's bar.

The worst of this was shown by how the schools adapted to the computer, but I'd need a book let alone a new thread to rant on that one! I had personal experience with schools and the new computers. The Dilbert cartoon strip could have been based on how the Ontario Board of Education handled it!

Anyone else remember the Hyperion?

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Go used, lol! Every year before school starts RFD makes a section for us to buy, sell and trade textbooks. Maybe they've got what you're looking for.

http://www.redflagdeals.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=49

Great forum overall, insanely active... best part is, it's all Canadians!
One more reason you're going to pay more for text books. Recycling means less demand in future years so the price has to stay high to cover all the costs I mentioned above.
 

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Here is a Canadian 'make your own book' company:

https://instabook.ca/ (right in Stoney Creek too...)

School boards order the books and distribute them to the schools so the printers/resellers don't have to send small volumes of books to each individual school. This doesn't change the number of books being ordered, it just means that they do not pay as much to the supplier for shipping. I imagine that they pay someone internally even more money to get the books to their final destination.
 
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And how many students in Toronto, Ottawa, London, etc.?
It's not "how many students" it's "how many students need this specific text book" -- there's a big difference. Looking at U of T's St. George campus, that's ~50,000 students, and that same text book I mentioned, there are maybe ~1200 students every year on that campus that need that text book: all the ECE and EngSci students in second year. That's it. And that's a pretty good purchasing case. Probably the best you'll see for any one text book at one school.

If they central purchased in one large quantity they could have the orders broken down and drop-shipped to the many schools, including those in smaller communities.
Universities and their teaching staff are notoriously autonomous. It's a higher learning hang up. Professors, in most cases, aren't required to standardize on any particular text book. So the book that Prof. A prefers at University 1 for microelectronics might not be the book Prof B. prefers at University 1. And if you try and tell them they have to pick one book you'll have a riot on your hands.

Furthermore, today 10,000 copies is no longer a paltry number! Modern computer and manufacturing techniques have slashed away the old idea of one big printing press cranking out one large production run 'cuz it cost so much to reset the letter blocks.

Ever hear of http://www.lulu.com ?
You can't even talk lulu.com when it comes to text books. I can throw ANYTHING down on paper and lulu.com will print it. University text books are not pulp fiction. A text book it has to be edited and peer reviewed to an insane degree to ensure it is both accurate and correct. Take a very common calculus text: Salas and Hille's Calculus: One and Several Variables -- many years pass between editions and corrections are debated hotly amongst the academic math authoring community. To have your name in the liner notes for a correction is considered among mathematics professor to be a great honour because the book is so damn accurate and correct as it stands. A correction is a big deal that requires a lot of time and effort and money to implement.

And don't even get me started on the quality of the prints. A $150 text book is a masterpiece of book binding and printing. A lulu.com one off is a PoS that won't last through one full read let alone use as a reference for years to come.

The world has changed, and the school boards are still back in the 60's. You just echoed the standard line given by the text book sellers. The same lines my salesman buddies gave to the school textbook buyers and laughed about that evening at the local salesmen's bar.

The worst of this was shown by how the schools adapted to the computer, but I'd need a book let alone a new thread to rant on that one! I had personal experience with schools and the new computers. The Dilbert cartoon strip could have been based on how the Ontario Board of Education handled it!

Anyone else remember the Hyperion?

:food-smiley-004:
You can't compare K-12 to universities. They are not the same thing. A school board has leverage a university can't hope to have. Remember when you were lamenting about buying those MilSpec pots? Why don't all the amp repair shops buy their pots independently? Why don't you just but one brand of pot for everyone, get the best deal, and then drop ship the pots to all the amp repair shops in Canada? I mean they only way a couple of grams each. Should save you tons of money, right? :) Universities aren't the big buying powerhouses you think they are.

I don't sell text books but I come from the halls of higher learning and a lot of the people I work with write text books on the side. I've seen what goes in to a text book from start to finish. Writing a text book and writing a mass market book are not the same thing. Universities are not great buying entities because they operate autonomously within and without themselves. The buying units are professors, not faculties or institutions. The bookstores get lists from professors of the books they'll be using for their course. And no matter how obscure of close-to-out-of-print those books are it's up to the bookstore to guess at the popularity of the course and make sure they've got enough in stock to satisfy the demand. If they aren't the consummate purchaser in this scenario so be it.

In the end it's a blip in your life, university is, and a blip in your financial burdens. Suck it up and worst case you've got some nice spider-killers on the bookshelf when it's all said and done.
 

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Funny how this topic comes up just as I'm posting on craigslist to sell my used books and looking for alternatives to buying new ones. Our school bookstore is VERY expensive though they claim to be non-profit. I'll probably end up buying on Amazon as it seems, I can get a new book on amazon for the price of a used one in my bookstore.
 

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In the end it's a blip in your life, university is, and a blip in your financial burdens. Suck it up and worst case you've got some nice spider-killers on the bookshelf when it's all said and done.

This is how I vividly remember taking book orders from both community colleges and universities, all over eastern Canada:

"Hello! I'm calling from Obscure University. I'd like to order Adam Osbourne's MicroComputers, Vol 1. What's the price?"

"No problem. The price is $15.50."

"Fine. Send us 300 copies! Here's my purchase order!"

"Wait! Hold on! That's a lot of copies! You get a discount on the price. It's 10.50."

"Really? Oh well."

"Do you want me to check my stock?"

"Why?"

"Well, I want to make sure I have enough copies. If not, I can get back to you with a date on the back order."

"Oh, classes start in two days. We expected you'd just have them!"

"Well, this is the third year in a row that we've advised you that Osbourne/McGraw Hill can have nasty lead times. Their books are VERY popular and we just can't possibly keep enough in stock. You were told that if you ordered at the start of the summer rather than the end there would be no problem."

"Oh well. Just send them along whenever they show up."

This is my personal experience and not hearsay. I can truthfully say that I NEVER experienced the same level of professionalism in education orders as I did from the private sector, even though in many cases a private sector order was more modest!

I never tried to claim that school textbooks did not need to involve a premium. The question is, how large a premium? My direct experience has been that nobody in educational purchasing asks for ANY kind of volume discount! Or cares to ensure that the textbooks were available at the start of courses. I witnessed more than just text sharing. I saw outright theft going on with students desperate to have the necessary textbook!

And I know that my text salesmen friends had no reason to claim they got away with murder on pricing if it wasn't true!

I was also part of the company that brought the world's first personal computer into Canada, a model called the Osbourne I. We sold them hand over fist and it was my sorry lot to have to call on educational accounts. I really should start another thread if you want specific examples but suffice to say the situation was no different.

If you want to believe that the schools have professional and effective purchasing systems then you're entitled to your opinion. I'm just saying that my direct experience from the outside is quite different, and I would far rather it be you having to justify such a statement and not me!:smile:

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If you want to believe that the schools have professional and effective purchasing systems then you're entitled to your opinion. I'm just saying that my direct experience from the outside is quite different, and I would far rather it be you having to justify such a statement and not me!:smile:
I never said that universities have professional or effective purchasing systems. It's not at all organized. The bookstore may be making the call to the sales personnel but it's the professor ordering the purchase. And professors are not trying to optimize book purchases for the classes. That's not what they get paid to do.

Here's how that book store got that order: three days before class an irate, moody, and somewhat malnourished Professor walked into the faculty head's office. The faculty head looks up from a mountain of paperwork and says, "Steve, you pulled the short straw. You're teaching 1st year electronics." Steve storms out, pissed off his brain power is wasted on first years, and goes to the pub to drink it off. Wakes up the next morning, gets on the horn to the bookstore and says, "Whatever Prof. so-and-so did last year for a book, do that for me." Slams down the phone and goes back to sleep off the hangover.

As a former graduate student and TA, my professional experience is that exact scenario. I've seen it play out a few years in a row that way. The other scenario is the professor who regularly teaches the class regularly forgets to tell the bookstore at the beginning June when they're supposed to let them know about book orders and in a panic calls them the day classes start.

Multiply that by that by the number of professors in a school. I said, in that purchasing climate, they do the best they can. Which is not great. But isn't the end of the world either.
 

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Some profs are completely oblivious to the cost of books too. I once took a music history survey course that covered 1700-1800. The prof choose the Grout/Pallisca textbook with the Norton Anthology for examples. Great books, but unfortunately the Norton Anthology prints one book covering music up to 1750 and another for 1750 to the present, and same with the CD sets. This meant we had to buy both books and both CD sets to cover the whole course, but the course only used 4 of the 12 CDs, and a similar portion of the books. $485 on books for one single course (although I still go back to them as references frequently.) I am glad now that I own them, but when I was 19 and struggling to just pay tuition it was definitely a difficult purchase.
 

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Some profs are completely oblivious to the cost of books too. I once took a music history survey course that covered 1700-1800. The prof choose the Grout/Pallisca textbook with the Norton Anthology for examples. Great books, but unfortunately the Norton Anthology prints one book covering music up to 1750 and another for 1750 to the present, and same with the CD sets. This meant we had to buy both books and both CD sets to cover the whole course, but the course only used 4 of the 12 CDs, and a similar portion of the books. $485 on books for one single course (although I still go back to them as references frequently.) I am glad now that I own them, but when I was 19 and struggling to just pay tuition it was definitely a difficult purchase.
He/She probably wanted those books but was too cheap to buy them. Usually, profs call for and receive free evaluation copies of books from the publisher. My guess is that the publisher didn't give out complete sets of this one. By making it the assigned textbooks, he/she got himself a free set paid by the university or received a complimentary one from the publisher.
 

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He/She probably wanted those books but was too cheap to buy them. Usually, profs call for and receive free evaluation copies of books from the publisher. My guess is that the publisher didn't give out complete sets of this one. By making it the assigned textbooks, he/she got himself a free set paid by the university or received a complimentary one from the publisher.
I doubt that was the case here. These are generally the standard music history texts. A course that's dealing with any other century would only need to buy half of those books (either pre or post 1750) so that brings them down to a reasonable cost. It was just bad luck for those of us who were taking the 18th century course first. This prof retired that year (another reason I don't think he cared about free copies) and the later profs all looked for cheaper texts so we didn't get the usual benefit of already having these.
 

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I doubt that was the case here. These are generally the standard music history texts. A course that's dealing with any other century would only need to buy half of those books (either pre or post 1750) so that brings them down to a reasonable cost. It was just bad luck for those of us who were taking the 18th century course first. This prof retired that year (another reason I don't think he cared about free copies) and the later profs all looked for cheaper texts so we didn't get the usual benefit of already having these.
Maybe he was trying to get the latest edition.
 

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Multiply that by that by the number of professors in a school. I said, in that purchasing climate, they do the best they can. Which is not great. But isn't the end of the world either.
The end of the world? No, of course not. I certainly am not blaming you personally, either! Even when you were still in school I'm sure you weren't in a position to give the university president his marching orders each morning! :smile:

However, if by the "end of the world" you mean the situation is trivial I guess that depends on your perspective. If you pay taxes for education or if you're a student having to buy textbooks you might be a little less forgiving of how universities and schools can be run with such inefficient purchasing systems.

It breeds not only disrespect but outright resentment, in many cases!

How do you think Mike Harris achieved two outstanding majorities while taking potshots at how the educational system is run? Despite how the opposition screamed that virtually no one in Ontario supported his actions he still achieved that huge second majority.

Note that I am not saying Harris was right, simply that the public's perception of the management of the educational portion of their tax dollars was a very easy target! Being oblivious to cost savings is just one source of the disrespect. Schools are supposed to be run by those wiser amongst us. I don't think any government imposes a purchasing system on any school. They dream up their system themselves.

:food-smiley-004:
 
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