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Is there a racket scheme to get college students to buy useless texts?

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posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 03:46 PM
This one came to mind after reading another thread (non-conspiracy related)

But I've often wondered if there is a conspiracy to have college students buy sometimes worthless text books.

It's one of those things I've noticed. I've been college for about a year and a half at this point and in the past few terms I had a philosophy class in which the teacher assigned two different books, that I never bought. Why did I never buy them? I was trying to help my parents save money, so I decided to wait and see if I really needed them. The teacher maybe once asked us to read from one of the books, which I didn't worry about because the man never assigned homework and discussed all the material in class.

I left that philosophy course with a A.

Here's where I began to ponder if there is some sort of conspiracy in this. I had a college study skills course that was very brief with only 2 credits. It was taught by a counselor who did not normally instruct courses. She had us buy a cheap book, that was maybe 20 dollars new. While she attempted to have us make use of it, she told the class that she did not normally assign course materials. Basically even though I bought this book, I never had to read it.

Why did she assign a book that we didn't need? She explained that teachers and other administration members pressured her to assign a text book.

Then there was a writing class. one in which I bought the book, and easily got another A, with only reading a few pages of it to read an essay or understand a basic idea for argument based writing.

There was another course based on study skills, also instructed by a counselor. The text book we only used once, and he gave us copies of what we needed for this anyways. Good class, however once again, useless texts.

My last term, I took a basic psychology course. This time, the instructor had a book assigned that was custom for this particular class and instructor. (In other words, I had had to look through a huge stack of books in the bookstore to find a used one on the shelves)
I very rarely read this book. Infact only once did I need it, when I had mis-understood when an assignment was due and had to read ahead to understand the material (which was then covered in the next session).

Due to the exclusive-ness of the book, it is almost impossible to sell back.

I'm not saying that all classes are this way, I've had quite a few where without the texts, I would not be able to do well.

Any college students former or current notice this trend in their classes?

UPDATE: I've changed the title to reflect the nature of the topic as some posters stated.

[edit on 10-9-2009 by Miraj]

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 03:50 PM
I'm studying on the third year of my degree.

I use a library.

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 04:00 PM
reply to post by mr-lizard

It's not always possible to do this at my college. They only hold one copy of a text book for use, which of course cannot leave the library. So if you've only got certain times in which you can do homework due to work schedules, this makes it difficult.

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 04:05 PM
YES! Since they don't like one-word answers, I will expound a little. Most text books are collaborated or completely written by your professors! The price is overly inflated, and a lot of the royalties go back to the school and the professors! It is a smaller scale conspiracy, but it is a fact!

I almost got expelled from the Spanish department at FSU for some nasty emails and comments I made that bordered on Slander (so I am told), but they switched from a decent cheap book to a ridiculous worthless paperback version with online support. It cost about 3x as much, and it didn't have the basic Glossary, Index, Cover, or info the old book had! It was written by two of the professors in our school! The price shot up and additional 50% when they had to reorder the books, but they were available online for a much cheaper price!! Of course, the books were "coded" to the individual schools, and you had to buy it through the school bookstore or you could not complete the online assignments!!

There was almost a coup in the department, but after some threats of expulsion, we calmed down and bought the books!!

[edit on 10-9-2009 by getreadyalready]

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 05:04 PM
Sure there is.

Otherwise, you could be using the same calculus book that I used in college 35 years ago. Calculus hasn't changed. Yet every other year there is an updated book, so you can't sell back your used one and can only purchase a new one.

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 05:44 PM
I few lecturers at the uni I went to had new editions of their books published pretty much annually, most of these lecturers had managed to get their books on the reading list. So I guess they were doing that to help their own cause.

I did find though that most textbooks say the same things. Although I graduated lass than five years ago most of my information was from cheap textbooks from second hand shops. Unlike the ones on th ereading list they were from the 70's, pretty old.

My advice would be buy a good, big related textbook that is relevant to your modules, then just use the library to read the newer expensive ones. Infact I remember borrowing textbooks off friends and photocopying the relevant chapters.

Saying that I completely changed my tune in my final year. I realised if I invested in EVERY book on the list I wouldn't ever have to go into uni again, except for exams. I think I spent around £120 on books in my last year but attended uni during term time maybe twice a month. [smug]The best thing about this wasn't the lie ins or free time or relaxing hours spent in the bath learning from the textbooks... It was the look on some of the more committed students faces when they realised not only did I pass, I also answered questions we never even covered.[/smug]

[edit on 10-9-2009 by and14263]

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 06:21 PM
I've returned to college as an adult and I am stunned at the quickness of textbook change. (Of course it could have been this way when I was young and I didn't notice, but back then I do recall buying the cheapest used books I could get my hands on and rarely ever having to fork out premium bucks for a new book.)
Today, yes, it does feel like a conspiracy of sorts. If not a conspiracy, then for sure a money-making racket. In one of my classes I have the new textbook for the Fall semester, yet the teacher has told us she hasn't had a chance to update her notes, so basically she's teaching from the 'old' book. In my second class, I'm using a book a friend of mine bought new for the Spring semester. It has already been replaced, so in this class I'm using an old book while the new book is one written by the professors. Very confusing, expensive, not to mention irritating.

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 06:42 PM
As Seeker Mom said, it's not a Conspiracy but it is a Money Making Racket.

If you think normal College Text Books are bad I had an Undergraduate Course that had a required Text Book that hadn't been in print for over 50 years! To buy a used copy was around $1500 for something that was beat-up and dog-eared and contained marginalia, underlines and notes. And it wasn't a useless Text Book. Without it you would have been utterly lost in the class (and every subsequent class you took on the subject). Thankfully, a friend of mine in the class scanned his copy into .PDF format and distributed it to everyone in the class.

Especially when you are on a budget, ask the Professor before buying a Text Book to find out if it really is required for their course. You'll find that many of them will say "It's suggested, but not necessary". And as others have mentioned, photocopying or scanning sections from Text Books is protected under the Fair Use Act (as long as you don't do the whole thing!). Also, the Library and Interlibrary Loan are your friends! $1 to get the Text Book on Interlibrary Loan for 2 weeks beats paying $100 to buy that Text Book.

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 06:45 PM
There is no conspiracy here. The publishers have been open about their practices. The vast majority of books published lose money. Text books make money. New editions every year mean more sales, which cover the losses from most of the other books the publisher puts out. It is just business.

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 07:01 PM
I graduated from Mechanical Engineering about 26+ years ago, so perhaps the situation has change (there was no Internet, E-Mail or affordable personal computing in my days).

Also, I was doing my degree while working, my tuition fee was paid by my employer (but not the text books), so I had the money and I didn't mind buying all theses books (I bought plenty of others as well).

Now, I have these books and I'm using them from time to time (depending of the subjects).

I don't thing there is a conspiracy, but it is sure a business (publisher, library, printing press, etc.) to make money.

Some subjects has not changed for years (basic stress analysis, mathematics for Engineers, etc.) so you would expect that the text book would has been pretty much figure out by now, but they keep revamping them (change of photos, make the look and feel with box-in sample problem, reference to web site, etc.).

P.S.: overall there are very few books that I regret buying.

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 07:29 PM
Oh absolutely, whether you call it a conspiracy or just a plain old fashioned RACKET.

These text-book publishers go out of their way to push out new editions that don't expand on the subject matter, but rather reorganize it so new editions won't jive with the old ones. New editions contain new assignment and homework questions purposely to prevent a student with an older edition from being able to complete any assignments. Editions quickly get dumped from the used book market around most campuses for reasons like that.

Most people just suck it up and pay for the books because it's all part of the college experience but it really is a giant racket.

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 07:32 PM
i am currently in my final year of my undergrad. i can say without doubt that textbooks are the biggest racket universities have ever come up with.

We have 2 bookstores that serve my college and BOTH are owned by the university. Professors try to always get the newest edition of books most of which are written by their colleagues. So im sure there is some sort of kickback or monetary incentive to use their books. This means that new edition you bought last year for $180 will only get you 30 dollars back this year on trade in. but all the bookstore does is turn around and sell that book for $100 to another university that still uses it.
In other words the bookstore gets paid twice.

The bookstore does not release the book list until around 2 weeks before classes start leaving very little time to buy books online which can save hundreds of dollars. anyone who uses amazon knows it takes a while for your materials to arrive.

its a very legal monopoly that puts further burden on college kids

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 07:35 PM
There is some pretty shady stuff going on from my experiences. Our college had a college run bookstore and prices and services were pretty good, for some reason they let a private company run the store and now prices suck and they really try to rip you off as far as buy back goes. Why you'd give a bookstore to a for profit group, I have no idea, it's incredibly stupid. On the 3rd day of class they had about an hour + long line, (which I passed on) and a cop had to watch over the line and store since things were ran so horribly. I came back the next day about 30 minutes before the store even opened in the morning, I thought I was so clever but there was already a line, but in all took about 40 minutes to get the books I needed. Much quicker than probably any other time during the day.

I know some people love privatization, capitalism and that junk but it sucks pretty hard in this case. Community, non-profit things can indeed be a good thing..

[edit on 10-9-2009 by ghaleon12]

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 07:40 PM
reply to post by Miraj

Yes, I have noticed. I am 33, but I still take classes. Not sure that's really important as far as this post goes, but I said it anyway, lol.
Anyway, one of my English professors (and a fave professor of mine) told us the very first day of class that he HATES text books and wishes that he didn't have to use them but the college requires it. They set the curriculum and pick the book and he has to go along with it. He said that he had tried and tried to get them to ditch the books because he really wanted to help the students out and save them or their parents a few bucks, but they didn't listen. I took two of his classes and ended up buying 3 books that were barely used because he printed out most of what he wanted us to use and referred us to the internet for other things. So, maybe there is a conspiracy?

Just so you know... your college/university makes you buy those fricken books and then wont give you much of anything when you try to resell them, so put them on ebay... you'll get more. That's not a guarantee, but your chances are good!

Edited to throw this in to go along with what you said: I rarely used the book, even when we were supposed to and finished the class just short of an A+. I got an A on every single assignment. The books were really of no use to me.

[edit on 9/10/2009 by gemineye]

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 07:54 PM
Oh and have you ever tried to sell a new book back to the bookstore during trade-ins?

That book you paid $175 for you're lucky to get $25 out of it.

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 11:14 PM
I just got a chance to look at my new math class.

They printed a 2009 edition of my text. Lovely. Hopefully they haven't actually changed anything.

Last year they made a second custom edition.

And some time before that they made a custom edition.

I ended up buying the second custom edition for the class, then a couple months later I discovered my brother had purchased the first edition.

After looking at all the assignments, all the problems were the same. Having to re-take the same math class due to poor grade in it, I sold the second addition. The first edition was fine for that class. I am hoping I will not need to purchase another edition, (as this copy was intended for the two term math class).

Guess I won't be able to find out until I talk to my teacher.

It really seems like a sick game to me. They tell me they want to help the community by offered education to people who couldn't afford to go to a University or didn't make the cut, or people who want to go back to school.

Then they profit off of them. But this is something I should expect I suppose. I've had a couple teachers who dislike the system of it now that I think about it. One had been using the same book for a couple years, I was able to use my brothers copy.

posted on Sep, 10 2009 @ 11:17 PM

Originally posted by Blackmarketeer
Oh and have you ever tried to sell a new book back to the bookstore during trade-ins?

That book you paid $175 for you're lucky to get $25 out of it.

Half the books I got last term, I'll be lucky to ever find a buyer.

Really does bother me that my teacher assigned a custom book, which probably cost more to print (which is moved onto the consumer of course) and is something we didn't need.

All one had to do to pass was pay attention to her droning lectures.

posted on Sep, 12 2009 @ 08:24 PM

Originally posted by Blackmarketeer
Oh and have you ever tried to sell a new book back to the bookstore during trade-ins?

That book you paid $175 for you're lucky to get $25 out of it.

Wait for the right time to sell, and you'll get what you paid for the book.

In my opinion, college books are generally supplemental material. Professors make it mandatory to purchase the books so that you can read more on the course material as your curiosity sees fit. Plus, it's awesome to see the teacher sincerely impressed when you quote the book. I buy all my books and read them, whether the professor assigns it to us or not. I'm not in college to just pass and get a degree, I'm in college to learn.

[edit on 12-9-2009 by acissej]

posted on Sep, 12 2009 @ 08:46 PM
I remember spending a ton of money on books...books I barely used in my classes. Hundreds of dollars for classes...Hundreds of dollars for books...its ridiculous the amount of money needed to get just a semester of education. Sure you could take out loans and apply for grants but your still going to have to have a good deal of money just to get by....It's ridiculous. At least if you do college courses online- your material is there for you free...

Rather than healthcare, we should be focusing on making education affordable for students. People pay off loans into their 30's and 40's for god sakes...years after even graduating.

I've said it before and I'll say it again- college is simply over-priced for the type of education you receive.

posted on Sep, 12 2009 @ 08:53 PM
My niece recently went to Hyles Anderson Bible college and every one of her over priced books was written by a member of the Crowley family which pretty much runs the school and associate ministries throughout the country. I was surprised to find the same thing done in the MIT course materials that I browsed online. It sure seems like a ripoff/conspiracy to me.

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