Friday, September 15, 2006

Textbook buying sucks

I had to drive all the way to the college bookstore today because it was unclear which textbook I needed from the website. When I got there I was relieved to find that my instructor has the decency not to upgrade to the newest edition of the book, for which of course no new copies would be available. I'm taking a self-paced tutor-assisted version of this class which means I study at home and can go get help anytime I like and if I pass the tests with an 80 percent or better I will get an A.

At any rate even for the "outdated" form of the text, new copies are about a hundred bucks and used are $75.00. Naturally I ran back to my computer and purchased a used copy off the internet for 40 dollars, shipping included.

College bookstores are the biggest racket. I remember when I was going to Big Box University, way back in the day when the internet was just a gleam in some malnourished nerd's squinty, nearsighted eye. So the bookstore was pretty much your only option. Then when the term ended and it was time to get rid of your textbooks, you'd be paid about one-fourth of what you paid, and a few weeks later some other dork would pay three-fourths of the new price for your used texts. Plus most of the employees were work-study and therefore cost the school pennies on the dollar. And the bookstore made money hand over fist, from what I can tell.

It's still the same racket nowadays, we just have more options. I do have to buy my text sight unseen and hope it's not highlighted too much (I am assured by the buyer that it is in "good" condition, which I'm sure could turn out to be a matter of interpretation), but I will save 35-60 dollars over what I would have had to shell out from the bookstore. And if I'd taken care of this sooner I'd have it in my grubby little mitts already.

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