Interesting and alarming article from the Brownsville (TX) Herald about how Texas students are purchasing books from their college bookstores, transporting them across the border into Mexico, and photocopying the books there to save money. The books are then returned to the bookstore for full credit.
The article estimates that the cost of the “copied” book is about $13.00, as opposed to up to $100 for the real thing. At least one honest student though comments that she was headed to the library to borrow the book instead.
Parent volunteer Laurie Winkler is part of the problem. She is working hard as a volunteer to prevent the politicians from facing the results of their silly decisions. By working hard to make the library limp along without the educational staff of the librarian, she is protecting the politicinas from the results of thier decisions.
Also, it is irritating to hear her views considered rather than the professional staff in the news account. I’m sure the librarians interviewed said the same things (and more!) before and after the decsions were made, but it is the volunteer who gets the press time, not the professional librarians.
“Do more with less” is not realistic. You end up doing less with less, and if the school district is not going to support the libraries, then they should shut them down and take both the plaudits and complaints. By working hard to make a library limp along with volunteers, the politicians can point out that volunteers are doing the work of librarians, and that they weren’t needed anyway. Thus they saved money by getting rid of positions without getting rid of services.
I’m fascinated by the process. Were the school sports programs cut first, or were they protected by cutting the academic and library programs first? I suspect the sports programs were protected, because they have an outspoken and politically active support. I would be interested in hearing about schools who have sports programs staffed by volunteers, and not professional coaches and teachers.
Sigh. We know where our priorities are in this country. The library is going down the grand rapids, while non-academic programs are protected.
No big shock
Hell I wish I’d thought of this when I was in college. I could have saved well over a thousand dollars on textbooks.
In my opinion, textbooks are the worst sort of price fixing. You have a market which not only demands the book, but is literally forced into purchasing it. Since the system forces the student to pay for it, then the publishers can charge whatever they want for the item. Being an avid RPG player, I’ve bought my share of large hardcover books. One of the biggest was the HERO System Fifth Edition Corebook. The thing’s pretty massive even for a role playing book. It’s 8.5 x 11 inches (21.6 x 27.9 cms), hardcover, 374 pages and well bound to last for a long time. The cover price is US$39.95 which is pretty much what anyone could expect to pay for a book of this size, shape, and quality. A comparable textbook, say a history book, would be at least US$20.00 more. And students will pay it; because they have to.
My history degree covers Japanese civilization and popular culture. Because of that there were some supplemental books I wished to buy while in college. I didn’t have to buy these, but the professors thought they may come in handy. One was a English/Japanese Dictionary and the other was a Kanji Dictionary published by Kodansha. Both of them together cost less than a single American History text I had to buy. Both dictionaries were hardcovers and extremely thick. The American History book was softcover and maybe half as thick as the Kanji Dictionary.
I grant that Japanese dictionaries are a niche market of sort, but the reason that two books cost less than one is because fewer people are forced into buying a Japanese dictionary than are a textbook on American History. So the publisher knows that, if this book is going to sell at some university, then they better jack the price as much as possible. That way they can get as much as they can from students already living off ramen and rice.
I found this chart that shows where each textbook dollars go. http://www.nacs.org/common/research/textbook$.pdf
The chart was created by the National Association of College Stores
Thanks, Biblio,the chart is interesting. Having worked for a publisher for many years, I know that there a lot of items omitted…researching, illustrating, design, copyediting, typesetting, proofreading, foreign rights, warehousing, etc., but maybe these things are included in the publishers nickel.
Further to my previous comment, I know that a lot of the additional expense (the creeping cost of textbooks) comes from RETURNS. Bookstores buy X number of books, and those that are not purchased for the course go back to the publisher, causing additional costs of warehousing, shipping, packing materials and a huge loss due to damage (from being shipped to, fro and so on). A lot of this is caused by the big wholesalers, such as Baker & Taylor and Ingram, who overpurchase and return with nary a fret.
Not very accurate picture
An individual book has some fixed costs and variable costs. Based on that chart, if a typical hardcover book retails for $30, all hardcover books should retail for $30.
It doesn’t explain why some books are $200, or why a paperback version of a textbook costs 25% less than a hardcover. Does the actual cardboard hardcover cost $15 – 50?
It probably has something to do with how they print books – they probably have to print a minimum amount, and for one profitable popular book they print 300 unprofitable ones that sit in a warehouse taking up space. They spread that cost across all their books.
I’d bet that large publishers make tons of money on popular science/math textbooks that many universities use. That’s why they change the editions so frequently. Then again, it also lets them print the really obscure books. I think if the publishers had to make money on every book they printed, we wouldn’t have many books period!
You posted this to the wrong story–it’s clearly a comment on the previous story (that is, the story immediately below).
It’s not so much off-topic as it is out of place.
Would that be net after fees for the lawyer, fines, and the delay of your education because of incarceration?
Remember, it is still a crime to knowingly violate a copyright. The nice folks at the Department of Justice will tell you all about it.
Re:Not very accurate picture
The size of the print run is also a factor in the price of the book. The smaller the print run, the more expensive each book is going to be. It costs the same to prepare the presses for a 100,000 copy run as it does to set them up for a 10,000 copy run.