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Are colleges in cahoots with textbook publishers?

rymdrymd - 1020 replies35 threads Senior Member
edited January 2011 in College Life
Whyyy do classes make you buy always the newest editions of textbooks even the year they come out, and with your own money? :((( already paying tens of thousands come on
the changes between editions are minimal, and most of the changes are in page numbers and problem sets

most of my professors say that they didn't choose the textbook and so department/administration would be responsible for textbook choice.
should we have to pay $60 extra for a different set of problems and tiny changes?
there's no other explanation... colleges are in business with the publishers :(
edited January 2011
8 replies
Post edited by rymd on
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Replies to: Are colleges in cahoots with textbook publishers?

  • Yakyu SpiritsYakyu Spirits 763 replies62 threads Member
    A lot of my professors wrote the book the class uses, so of course they want you to buy the new one.
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  • Got2BeGreenGot2BeGreen 479 replies18 threads Member
    Lots of professors agree that new editions are not usually justified. There have actually been polls on this subject. However, when assigning textbooks they often don't have the option of ordering an older edition. They can, of course, tell their students that "editions 8, 9 and 10 will all work." There are problems with that (it's annoying because everything is on a different page number, for example), but they are probably manageable.

    Publishing houses like to have a new edition every 3-4 years because it keeps their revenue stream up. The prof who wrote the book can refuse to produce a newer edition, but in many cases the publisher can then take it over and publish a new edition of the book using revisions done by someone else. That's a pretty powerful incentive to profs to keep coming out with new editions; they don't want to lose control of their work.

    I think it's safe to say your profs aren't in cahoots with the publishers. I doubt the administration is either. There might be a cozy relationship between the college bookstore and the publishers, but I don't have any evidence that there is.
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  • kmazzakmazza - 853 replies11 threads Member
    Blaming the bookstore now!?! Write your congressman if dont like it. Students are a market.
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  • OminousRunOminousRun 688 replies2 threads Member
    I don't know if they're in business together, but it's definitely a symbiotic relationship.

    I'm just sick of going into the bookstore at the end of the semester and hearing "we're not buying that book back because a new edition is coming out".

    Without new editions the bookstore can't make that claim.
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  • Got2BeGreenGot2BeGreen 479 replies18 threads Member
    When I mentioned bookstores, I was primarily thinking of the for-profit stores like B&N (a store I love, by the way). They ARE the bookstore on many college campuses, and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that they strategized with publishers to increase profits. Again - I don't have any evidence that they have, so I'm not accusing them.

    But I was curious about the issue, so I did a little google digging. Apparently, some profs and university admins might be more culpable than I thought. For example, universities sometimes get a part of the profits from the bookstore in a sort of kickback arrangement. And some universities require students to buy custom editions of a book which are significantly more expensive, but which not significantly different. (In one example, the custom book included a few pages about the college that were available for free from the college's website). That still doesn't put the university in cahoots with the publisher, but they do seem to have a common interest insofar as the publisher, bookstore and university all benefit from higher prices.

    I never personally knew a prof or college who engaged in these tactics, however.
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  • TomServoTomServo 1992 replies55 threads Senior Member
    Colleges and professors are often in cahoots with publishers. Schools get money from the publishers to make their newest edition a required text. Look it up if you've never heard of it. Sometimes individual professors (who wrote the book or get a payment for "reviewing" the book but only if they make it a requirement) get money too. That is why you are seeing more and more use of online hybrid texts and "binder-ready" versions. They can't be resold (either because they expire or they just fall apart after a semester of use). I'd say 90% of professors know that students are being scammed but can't really do anything about it. My physics professor deliberately adjusted his scoring so that the online content (which required buying a new book or key code for a lot of money) was only worth a small fraction of the grade, because he didn't want students spending extra money just to pass the class when they could learn just as well from the older edition of the text. Every math teacher I've had allowed the use of an older text. But department heads and administrators enjoy getting "incentive" from publishers.
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  • kmazzakmazza - 853 replies11 threads Member
    ye, its all part of the pinko commie liberal marxist college professor conspiracy
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  • TheYankInLondonTheYankInLondon 3455 replies32 threads Senior Member
    Yup... It is a broken market. The student must acquire the good no matter the price, and thus companies can vastly overcharge for them...
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