The same scam with a new face
Text Books were expensive 30 years ago, and a new version of calc was released every year…. newsflash, calculus hasn’t changed so there’s no need for a new edition yearly. That is unless someone didn’t want last year’s calc book sold to this year’s students
They were very excited about ebooks coming. Textbooks are very expensive to print: they have to be on high quality paper, the typesetting is often very complex, and they’re printed in very low volume compared to mass market books. They’re basically the most expensive books to print.
Years ago I used to work for a publisher. The academic arm had an explicit policy of revising textbooks every few years specifically to kill the used book market. They tracked stats like class size vs book sales per school. When that started to dip it was time to come out with a “new” edition.
AND there’s no such thing as a used ebook, so students are forced to buy fresh copies for every class.
Even charging exactly the same for ebooks as print books results in large jumps in profit because your variable costs are next to nothing. Plus you don’t take a hit on returns of unsold copies of the old books when the new ones come out. There’s no such thing as an unsold ebook.
In some schools that don’t explicitly prohibit it, ebooks can also set up a massive conflict of interest for the professors. A prof might not be able to get his own textbook printed for his students, but he can absolutely afford to create his own ebook. Now he has a financial incentive to price it high and require that all students buy it.
EDIT: I’m getting a lot of comments about PDFs. I get it, those can be shared. What my company was talking about back then was using DRM to tie each book to your student ID. If you screenscraped it and shared it, it could be tracked to you.
It’s a total scam has been for several years now and nobody is doing shit about it.
Actually the scam has evolved. Because students would just use the years previous revision or just download a copy of the book somewhere, many courses come with a “Homework code” that can only be used once.
I always thought it was fishy as fuck when my university’s bookstore wouldn’t buy back my texts but right outside the entrance was a donation box for used texts. I always had a feeling the store went in there after hours and pulled those “donations” out.
Even worse, you can’t sell the ebook when you’re done with it, DIGITAL PRODUCTS SHOULD NEVER COST MORE (or even the same) AS PHYSICAL COPIES!! Whether we’re talking about books, music, TICKETS (FUCK YOU TICKET MASTER). It makes no sense, they don’t have to pay to print, publish, produce and distribute the physical copy if you buy digital. While penalize you for it?….sorry, this topic triggers me.
Around 2010 I sold a $120ish dollar history textbook back to the bookstore for $18 (needed money right away, that was the surest bet), when I was back in the bookstore not long after I saw my used copy on the shelf for $80.
Professor here. I use open source textbooks (freely available online and of a high quality) in every class I can, with linked journal articles to supplement and keep the course current. It takes like no effort to do this. Students should question any institution not making this a priority.
Textbooks are a scam. You’ve got new editions with a few edits made, maybe some new pictures, and a couple chapters swapped places, but they newest edition is required to take part in the class? Bullshit.
I literally bought old editions for all my textbooks in uni. All the info was in there it was just shuffled around in different orders compared to the latest edition. Such a joke was real pissed about it lol.
One of my professors even condones book piracy. No problem, I already use libgen for pirating electronics and witchcraft related books for personal use, and have a reliable network of Discord buddies to send me their pirated textbooks when I have to wait ages for the physical copy I ordered.
The entire college text book industry should be hit with racketeering charges. The actual mafia can’t be running that shit show because those guys would have too much of a heart to do college students like that. The people that are publishing those books and defrauding college students are probably also in cahoots with the lending firms who provide those same students with loans, because when you’re a college student that whole process is just way too streamlined. You get the loans and you have the sticker shock when you see the book prices, but you have that thousand dollar check in your hand so you just buy the books and forget about it. Until you have to pay it back later.