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"Textbook" with no binding!

jgotteachjgotteach Posts: 97Registered User Junior Member
edited September 2010 in Parents Forum
We purchased most of my freshman son's textbooks online, thanks to the helpful advice found on this forum. Unfortunately, his chemistry textbook had to be purchased through the bookstore, as it is yet another new edition. (In researching the textbook title, I found "older" 2010 editions, but this ISBN number was for the 2011 edition.) We pre-ordered the book through the bookstore, and when he went to pick it up, discovered that it wasn't even bound into a book! It is a thick stack of shrink-wrapped, 3-holed punched pages, for which he had to buy a 3-inch binder. The price of this new book (it was listed as a textbook) is $164! I've never heard of buying an un-bound "book" before, and am wondering if this is a common practice. Also, I'm wondering it seems it would be more difficult to re-sell, given that the holes aren't reinforced, and thus likely to become ripped during the course of the year. Is this a new practice with publishers, or the result of running out of time in cranking out a new edition every year? When I went to college (a few decades ago!), we would occasionally purchase photocopied "readers", but all of my texts from publishers were actual books.
Post edited by jgotteach on
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Replies to: "Textbook" with no binding!

  • blackeyedsusanblackeyedsusan Posts: 2,382Registered User Senior Member
    My son just told me about a similar experience with one of his undergrad business "textbooks." He ended up finding a hardbound version online for about $10 more and ended up going that route since the resale value would be greater. I think it's an outrage that some printed sheets that don't even have binding would sell for over $100.
  • tango14tango14 Posts: 1,578Registered User Senior Member
    When you pay for a book, most of the price is not the cost of printing/binding which amounts to relatively little in the overall cost. You are paying for the author(s)' work, editing, graphics, rights to photo, royalties, etc. That is the greatest percentage of the cost of a book. It is not at all unheard of to purchase books this way. I think if you compare the cost of bound chemistry books to this one, $164 is probably less that you would pay. Science textbooks are very expensive. Also is this a workbook/textbook where there are pages of problems to submit? That would also influence the way the text is presented.
  • jgotteachjgotteach Posts: 97Registered User Junior Member
    Like BlackeyedSusan's son, I think I would rather pay a more for a bound book to increase the likelihood of re-sale. In the binder, the pages are unwieldy, not to mention more easily torn out, etc. There are no workbook pages to submit, it is simply an unbound textbook. I just checked the publisher's website, and they seem to be selling a cloth package version (I don't know what that means) for $217. A couple of weeks ago, they only had the shrink-wrapped version listed, which makes me think they might have run out of time in shipping the books to colleges. On a related topic, I'm not sure why it is necessary to publish a new edition every year, since it means students can't purchase (or sell) used books.
  • sherpasherpa Posts: 2,611Registered User Senior Member
    Seems to me to be an invitation to photocopy and share/sell to classmates.
  • blackeyedsusanblackeyedsusan Posts: 2,382Registered User Senior Member
    Well if the cost of binding is minimal, why don't they go ahead and do it? My son also figured out that if he got the packet of loose pages from the bookstore he'd also need to spend money to buy some binders to keep it in!
  • ithilkwolfeithilkwolfe Posts: 17Registered User New Member
    Science textbooks tend to come out with new editions really frequently. Some profs are aware of this and tell students that they can use older editions (knowing that page assignments won't match up) to save money. For future reference, sometimes it's worth checking with the prof to see if you can get by with an older edition.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,869Registered User Senior Member
    We had a similar experience with a Calculus book at my daughter's college. Instead of being able to buy the published version of the book the students were required to buy a version "customized" for the school. It was huge, expensive, unbound and went through 3 semesters of Calc. Could not buy it or copy it from another student as it came with a required online homework access card that covered 2 semesters (those needing just the one semester were stuck buying it). As it was an unbound book it could not even be sold back to the school bookstore, let alone to anyone else. Really annoyed me as the regular, and not much different, version of the book was available much cheaper online.

    School bookstores are a pet peeve for me - I would like to support the school's bookstore but they really overcharge on new books and, in our collective experience, rip students off on the repurchase price for used books and the price they then charge the next student for that used book.

    We have saved hundreds of dollars every semester buying online.
  • b@r!umb@r!um Posts: 9,287Registered User Senior Member
    Our bookstore has sold unbound copied pages once when the instructor insisted on using a text that was out of print. I found a used copy online.

    In their defense, the unbound pages were cheaper than the list price of the book used to be, and given that the book was out of print, there probably wasn't much else they could have done.
  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom Posts: 3,556Registered User Senior Member
    One of my daughter's textbooks is like that.
    The benefit is that she can just take the section she needs with her to library to study and doesn't have to carry the whole heavy textbook.
  • jgotteachjgotteach Posts: 97Registered User Junior Member
    "Science textbooks tend to come out with new editions really frequently. Some profs are aware of this and tell students that they can use older editions (knowing that page assignments won't match up) to save money. For future reference, sometimes it's worth checking with the prof to see if you can get by with an older edition."

    (Sorry, I can't figure out how to have the message I'm responding to appear in my reply, so I just cut and pasted it.)

    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll pass it on to my son for future reference.

    I'm probably just old-fashioned, but, as a matter of personal preference, I really like books (even textbooks!). I like holding the book in my hand, propping the book up on my lap, etc. Flipping through pages in a binder wouldn't be the same for me.
  • CharlottemomCharlottemom Posts: 171Registered User Junior Member
    My sons university has a book rental program. I think we pay $130/semester and this includes the 'rental' of the 'main' book for each course. This semester his additional cost for books = $0! What a great program - too bad other universities don't do this! I believe they also require that teachers use an edition at least 4 semesters before changing which helps too!
  • FallGirlFallGirl Posts: 4,060Registered User Senior Member
    One of D's books is like this. I had never heard of it before either.
  • jgotteachjgotteach Posts: 97Registered User Junior Member
    "My sons university has a book rental program. I think we pay $130/semester and this includes the 'rental' of the 'main' book for each course. This semester his additional cost for books = $0! What a great program - too bad other universities don't do this! I believe they also require that teachers use an edition at least 4 semesters before changing which helps too!"

    Charlottemom, this sounds so civilized! What school does your son attend, (if you don't mind saying.)
  • BillyMcBillyMc Posts: 7,753. Senior Member
    The state college I take classes at does this with some books, to drive the cost down. Never nearly that much money, though, always much cheaper than usual.
  • CharlottemomCharlottemom Posts: 171Registered User Junior Member
    Don't mind a bit jgotteach! He goes to Appalachian State - He has only been there a few weeks but he already loves it!
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