School Book Rip-Off

We all know the game publishers play of putting out new text books every year or so and only adding a couple of things here or there so that, instead of buying used text-books off each other for nominal amounts of money, students have to put out $130-$250 for the latest edition of a book. Well, I just did all my book ordering for the spring semester. The “new” list price for the books totaled just over $400. Since the books are so new there really aren’t any used copies available yet. So I settled for slightly-used copies of the previous editions of the books. All together they set me back only $62, including shipping.

The catch is now the reading assignments doled out by the professor will be off in my book by a few pages. So I have to set aside about an hour every semester to go to the library with my used, last edition books, and a copy of the syllabus, and go through each reading to figure out how the new book’s pages correlate to the old book’s pages. It’s a bit of an annoying chore, but it really doesn’t take all that long. Sometimes it can be done just by looking at the table of contents if it’s detailed enough.

I look at it as saving about $300-$400/semester in exchange for about an hour of flipping through pages in the library, well worth it for me.

One nice thing about this is that hardly any students want to go through the trouble of this pagination chore, so the value of the used, previous edition books, plummets. While most my peers pay $150 for a new copy of a text book, I’m paying about $9, shipping included, for nearly the same thing. Yet another nice example of how a wasteful society makes it easy for the frugally-minded to reap the benefits of a massive consumer society without having to participate in the stressful, endless, rat-race required to churn it out.

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