The “book” pictured above was part of a stack of used text books, my son JumpStart Jack returned with, after his first semester. Looking at the book makes me furious.
You might suspect that I’m mad at Jack for not even removing his book from the plastic, but he pulled a B in calculus. I believe he studied, and know many kids do a lot worse in college calculus.
Or maybe I’m angry at the cheap book company that didn’t bother to bind the book. If they won’t bind it into a book, could they at least throw in a binder?
I’m actually fine with loose pages, and we’ve got plenty of old binders around. It’s not like the papers ever even got loose.
The reason I’m furious is the newest text book scam makes a “book” that cost $280 in August worthless today. The “book” is brand-new, never-been read, but no college kid is ever going to buy it thanks to this scam.
Text books were also a sore point from my college days.
I remember ranting during the early 90’s about what a total BS rip-off great business the UNCW books store had going. They’d sell me a new book for 220$ or a used book for $160. At the end of the semester, the bookstore would buy it back for 30$. Next semester, that same book would be back on shelves for sale at $160 again.
At the end of the semester, we would stand in line to give away sell the book back to the bookstore. College kids reasoned that some money was better than none, and we were broke (but luckily not in debt). The line frequently became so long it stretched around the building, past the bookstore owner’s
Odds are we were standing in line to sell books, in close proximity to another student, destined to buy that same book next semester. I remember discussing how it was simply a matter of matching the right students together. In retrospect a megaphone might have been a great tool to find a buyer.
Occasionally, I’d actually identify the right student, and sell him my book for $110. There is a saying that someone always loses in a deal, but in this deal, both parties were happy. I got more than 30$, and they paid less than $160. It really felt win-win. If only there had been a tool to connect all the kids who had textbooks with all the kids needing textbooks.
A tool connecting sellers and buyers seems pretty obvious today, but the late 90’s were different. I had access to a computer lab, and there was an internet, but nobody sold anything on it.
Nowadays, the challenge of matching people selling books with people buying books is the aided by huge companies. Amazon, Ebay, and Paypal are waiting to gouge you with fees ready to help. With a little effort from students, textbooks can be recycled and used multiple times.
New editions scam.
It was pretty common for a professor to write, and then require the 6th edition of his “new” textbook. However, I managed to sneak through a few classes with an illegal 5th edition. It was always a challenge to find differences between editions, but the school bookstore stopped selling and buying expired editions immediately.
The newest text book scam.
Examine the picture, and you’ll notice the torn plastic in one corner. JS Jack ripped it open just enough to retrieve the online access code.
Isaac Newton himself couldn’t pass this Calculus class without that mandatory code, because the assignments and quizzes are electronically delivered, and graded.
At the end of the semester, the access code has now been used, making the new stack of pages worthless. Instead of buying a book, students pay a fee for online instruction, and it is charged to students who have already paid big money to attend a brick and mortar college.
I’m frustrated that my post doesn’t contain a hack or solution. Sometimes you can buy just the unlock codes, but the savings are minimal. Looking at Jack’s book list for next semester, 2 classes require books with access codes.
We have been able to find deals on the other 4 classes by searching Amazon and Ebay. The 2 “books” with access codes will cost over $500, and be worthless by June. It takes Jack about 50 hours at his restaurant job to earn that money.