August 24, 2011

IS THERE A CONNECTION? 7 in 10 Students Have Skipped Buying a Textbook Because of Its Cost, Survey Finds.

Plus: New Site Brazenly Trades Pirated E-Textbooks.

I don’t think that piracy is the solution, but I’m appalled at the price increases for my texts in Administrative Law and Constitutional Law. I use my own materials in most of my other courses, and I’m about ready to do so in these classes rather than subject students to such prices.

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer writes:

What is especially galling to me is how often there is new edition of a textbook, and the differences are really not that dramatic. Why, you could almost get the impression that the author and publisher are doing this to obsolete older editions, and destroy the used book market.

We have discussed abandoning textbooks completely in our history department, and relying more on primary sources. We made a switch from an excellent Western Civ textbook by Spielvogel to what is generally regarded as not as good a textbook (and with many typos and minor factual errors) simply because Spielvogel’s book was $160.

Yeah, my Administrative Law book jumped $40 this year, to $170. It’s a good casebook, but I’m not sure it’s that good.

And reader Mark Larson writes: “My son is going into his freshman year in a 5-year physician’s assistant program. Lots of chem and bio. Just ordered his texts and the most expensive one was for an intro to Spanish class for $180 — more than the heavy-duty science books. His total for this semester was about $900. I can see why poorer students skip them or pirate them.”

A couple of years ago I got a paperback Constitutional Law text that looked pretty good, and was going to switch to it to cut costs — only to discover that the price was as high as the hardback text I was using. How can that be?

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