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Q and A Banner - #3 (World Records-1)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012



photo credit:  textbookrebellion

There is really no one-answer for this.

It's that time of year again.  That time where students and parents alike dread the thought of buying all those books required on their son's or daughter's list for university or college. 

Then there are the horror stories of spending hundreds on textbooks only to discover those books were no longer required or was even needed in the first place! Or to get the book from your older sibling that took the same major only to find out the book has been updated, so you have no choice BUT to buy the newer version.

So why are university/college textbooks so high?  Some say publishers say textbooks are costly to make - all those huge, glossy papers don't come cheap!  Others say since they have to compete or rather can't compete with your best-selling novels like Harry Potter and the likes, they have to make up cost somehow.
Then there's the used book industry who publishers claim cut into their bottom line -like Amazon and eBay have made the market for textbooks much bigger and more flexible.

But the truth of the matter is, and probably the number one reason for university/college textbooks being so expensive has got to be that they (the book publishers and/or authors), have the monopoly on the market.  Because just like, cinemas, airports, and sports arenas and even payphone service in prisons,  consumers, like the students,  face a severely limited amount of competitive suppliers; their only choices are to purchase the said books required or to make no purchase at all.  Hence, captive markets such as these result in higher prices and less diversity for consumers.

Then there are regulations such as Canada’s book import regulations which grant Canadian publishers exclusive rights to distribute titles. Does your bookstore want an American textbook? They can’t get it directly from the American publisher. They have to go to the Canadian arm of the American publisher, which imports the book and charges a 10% premium on the book for the service. This can result in American textbooks being a lot more expensive in Canada than in the U.S. For example, A History of the Roman People is $100.92 on Amazon.ca and $56.71 on Amazon.com. Note that Individuals can order American books from American online retailers like Amazon.com without paying duties, although they will have to pay GST on the imported goods. Of course, you’d have to pay GST if you bought the book in Canada anyway, so no big deal.  Depending on where the Canadian dollar is at, checking out American booksellers may be a good way of saving money.

So don't blame the campus bookstores - or even the professors, because what they make is a very small percentage in comparison to what the market itself makes.

But what can we do as consumers?  Not much really other than to arm ourselves with as much knowledge and information out there such as - never purchase a book until you're absolutely sure it's needed, view sites where you can purchase used books, trade, or even rent books and support orgainizations such as textbookrebellion.org in the USA.

If you know of any other sites than the ones listed below or any other information regarding this subject, please share with our readers.

Some resources:

  • Half.com is a subsidiary of eBay which is basically eBay without the bidding aspect. It predominantly focuses on person-to-person or business-to-person sales of books/textbooks, movies, music, and games/game systems which makes it a perfect choice for those who are interested in selling an old textbook or buying one used on the cheap.Textbook listings give all the necessary information about the text and sorts copies for sale by quality. They also make it a breeze to list a book simply by entering the ISBN number.
    Half.com charges a 15% commission to sellers and uses the eBay feedback system for user ratings so you can decide which sellers to trust.
  • Amazon is one of the biggest, most respected, and most trusted online merchants so it would make sense that it would be a great choice for buying and selling new and used textbooks. Amazon’s textbook section is very identical to Half.com. They charge the same 15% commission for textbooks and pay shipping costs to the seller. However, it may be a bit more difficult than Half.com to sift through used books. This would be a great choice if you are familiar with and enjoy the Amazon shopping experience.
  • Chegg has a very interesting business model. They rent textbooks rather than sell. This makes getting a hold of textbooks much cheaper and you don’t have to deal with selling them or holding on to them after you are done with the book.
    Chegg is the Netflix of textbooks. How it works is simple. You go to the site and select the textbooks you need. You pay the one-time rental price for each book and pay for them to ship it to you. You then keep the book until you are finished with it or you have the option to purchase the book later. When you are finished with the book, revisit the site and you can print out a shipping label for the books you want to send back and you ship them back to Chegg. It’s as easy as that!
  • Buy.com is another great online-only retailer with a great discount textbook section. Buy.com is similar to Amazon in that they sell just about everything from baby things to sports. They have highly competitive pricing and discounts and pretty much takes any form of payment including Google Checkout and Paypal.
    Not only do they have great prices on products, they provide inexpensive shipping, and they even compare their prices to the prices of leading competitors so you know you’re getting a good deal.
  • BOOKRENTER Start with the large search box that helps you trawl through 5 million textbooks. BookRenter offers you no-questions asked book return program plus free shipping. The range of categories cover almost all subjects that are taught in colleges (don’t forget to click the little ‘More’ links). BookRenter gives you different rental rates depending on the borrowing periods
  • Textbooks.com This too is a similar site with a very similar service. Textbooks.com shows that when it comes to cheap textbooks for purchase or rent, no site is too many as it almost mirrors the service offerings of the above two sites. The book rental site has a referral program that lets you earn $5 for each friend you refer to the site for a book rental or purchase. The site offers free shipping on orders above $25.

Source(s):  mentalfloss.com/, cheaptexts.ca/, makeuseof.com/

1 comment:

  1. There's a chance you're eligible to receive a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.


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