Skip to comments.Textbook price-check tool met with doubt - as campus bookstores "run the risk of insolvency"
Posted on 08/25/2012 3:40:38 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Campus bookstores hate the idea, and even some college students are skeptical of the new effort by a former California lawmaker to help them save money on textbooks for hundreds of classes on nearly every campus from Alabama to the Yukon Territory.
It's a free price-check that lets students compare textbook prices and rentals, and buy from the source they like best.
The new online tool comes from former state Sen. Dean Florez, president of the 20 Million Minds Foundation in Sacramento, which lobbies for low-cost textbooks and is behind legislation, SB1052, to create a low-cost digital textbook library in California.
The idea seems a winner, with textbook prices rising 8 percent on average in just the past year - faster than the cost of food, clothing or even housing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But Richard Hershman of the National Association of College Stores says that Florez's attempt to get students to buy textbooks from alternative sources is unfair to nonprofit campus bookstores that "will run the risk of insolvency."
Not all students are wild about the price-check tool either because the site does not yet include Amazon, and it doesn't always compare the same editions.
Florez says his foundation is working on both issues.
"We expect to continually improve the site as we move forward by adding additional vendors, plus a new feature that takes the real-time price at any third-party site and features it as best price at that particular time and place," Florez said.
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My kids (in grade school) still lug around 45 lbs of stupid text books. Why don't they have a kindle and download whatever they want? Is that really going to be more expensive than buying a 6 lb book that’ll be out of date in a couple of years? Or, in college, because of the small press run, paying $120 for the professor's book?
Wouldn't it be nice to be able to reference the facts in those books without having to lug around a library?
Comparison shopping for grossly overpriced textbooks runs the risk of putting nonprofit campus bookstores into insolvency?
I don’t know where to start with the multiple levels of idiotic assumption here, but I’ll just say that maybe overhead and cost of goods is the problem, if they just can’t cut it without a monopoly.
The left disdains a monopoly, don’t they? Unless their own ox is being gored, in which case the propaganda machine revs up to a high rpm whine.
The last thing "Big Publishing" wants is a challenge to their little (HUGE) monopoly on text books. I mean if authors start going "digital" on text books we don't need printers and shippers and paper mills and lumberjacks etc. AND when you wish to publish and updated version of a text book its just a little bit of editing and an upload. So that destroys the industry because all of the sudden most of the jobs in "Big Publishing" are the 21st Century equivalent of "Buggy Whip Manufacturers..."
The domestic printing industry has come under severe price pressure over the past decade or so. “Small press run” doesn’t explain the rapid inflation in the cost of college textbooks since the press run isn’t getting any smaller than it’s ever been, and the cost of printing has actually declined on smaller runs due to digital printing presses that require little setup and no printing plates.
Look elsewhere for the source of this. I’d suggest looking at royalties.
Its all a scam worked thru the college.
This is all part of the big education bubble ready to burst. My sibling works with textbook authors - university professors who make more money cranking out new editions than they do on their day jobs. LOTS more money. The textbook industry will eventually go digital but don’t expect to see a drop in prices.
In my industry we run into a problem like this on the software side. Software tools for the work we do are custom-made and extremely expensive because there simply aren't enough buyers to make it worthwhile for anyone to create and market something "off the shelf."
Kill off the hard copy and the price might be 20% less. Margin is huge on these and it’s going into the pockets of the author, the university and the publisher. Seriously, calculate the cost on running out a couple hundred sets of 400 black and white copies, and throw in maybe sixteen color copies. Less than forty dollars a pop available to anybody at your neighborhood Kinko’s. Using dedicated book manufacturing equipment is going to cost less than that. Retail $120.00? Who’s pulling whose leg?
The university, the author and the publisher would likely make more money on an e-book, they’d show a small price decrease while taking even higher markup. The threat is in losing control over the content published via that channel.
textbooks should be low cost and reusable. the writers that make student purchase brand new, often worse textbooks just so they can profit should be ashamed
They can’t have Kindles in public school because welfare daddy comes home, sees it and pawns it to buy drugs. Then the grade schooler can’t get a good education because the only people who can get a quality education are rich white people.
That’s what happened to the free government laptops in the schools.
Yeah, it's called a search engine. Kids have been doing this on their own for years.
One of my kids needed a physics text book whose 9th edition is almost $200 new. He found the 5th edition (almost identical and brand new with the CD that comes with it still unopened) for 11 cents on ebay. They only difference is that the order of the problems is scrambled.
There are tons of used books on ebay and Amazon. And, of course, advertised on flyers on college dorm walls.
Students learn really quick the best place to buy books is Amazon, The pric-check tool probably wants a cut in the profit through some fee for listing them and Amazon probably told them to get lost.
Textbooks are a racket, with “new” editions every few years to churn profits for publishers and authors. Notice that the professors who specify the books do not incur any expenses, and often benefit directly by royalties, and are treated royally by the publishers and bookstores.
It’s a huge racket - RICO worthy maybe.
I have a bit of knowledge of the production side. The actual cost of materials and labor plus factory overhead to produce a book might be seven or eight bucks. This is the domestic cost - off shore might be half that.
Not sure what the editorial costs would be, but on a $100 book, could it be $90 per copy? Hmmmm
By searching for the ID number online, I found the exact same book in the same condition for fifteen dollars...and that included shipping!
Needless to say, the overpriced one was returned to the bookstore.
Maybe the campus bookstores NEED to be insolvent. Either that or someone needs to take some courses on what constitutes a stable business model.
My experience is that professors use text books to line their pockets.
They write 2-3 standard texts, they require them for their class, and do an updated volume every year or two. The low run printing ensures a $40-100 price.
Maddeningly, they then teach from someone else’s text, and never reference their own.
On the flip, our Catholic High School is going electronic.