Blatantly stealing this from Instapundit…

…because (like, I suspect, Glenn Reynolds) I consider this to be the perfect intersection between the normally competing impulses of desire for public service, and sheer greed: Kindle Textbooks.  Buy ’em for the Kindle, or rent ’em; the former has its points as a later reference, but the latter is often a lot cheaper.  And you don’t actually need a Kindle; there are, as they say, apps for that.

Incidentally, if you don’t have kids about to go to college then you should go look up textbook prices on Amazon generally: it’ll give you an idea of just how bad things have gotten when it comes to niche printing.  When you go through the medical section in particular… damn.  For that kind of money, I could hire a scribe to copy out and illuminate some of those books – the prices are comparable, and the end result would be prettier, too.


  • Canthros says:

    ISTR Jerry Pournelle writing something about the subject of textbook price inflation earlier in the year. IIRC, his take was that it had to do with changes to the interpretation of the tax code with respect to warehoused inventory, which led to much smaller print runs to avoid keeping excess inventory.

    All this would have been handy when I was a college student, but we didn’t have Kindles or smartphones a decade to a decade-and-a-half ago. (My alma mater issued me a 166MHz Pentium laptop as a freshman. We were reckoned as relatively cutting edge, what with the 10- and 100BaseT ethernet in the dorm rooms.)

    In conclusion, uphill both ways, etc.

  • Doug Stewart says:

    Ethernet? ETHERNET?


    • Moe_Lane says:

      Doug: Deathmatches? You got to do deathmatches? In my day, if we wanted to play somebody on the other side of the country we’d have to go buy the same core rules, write up a character, mail each other a photocopy (and none of that fancy-smancy laser printer copying, either) then call each other on the phone to play out the combat. Sure, we’d miss half of the comments because we’d have to hold the phone close to the dice so the other person could hear them rolling, but the alternative was to take Polaroids of each die-roll and mail them to each other, which would be silly.


  • Jbird says:

    College has become increasingly less “worth-it” in pure monetary terms. It’s the next bubble. Between my wife and I we have 5 degrees and almost 100k in debt. I’m forbidding my children from majoring in a humanity and most likely they will have to get the Marines to pay for their degrees because I’ll still be paying for mine when they turn 18.

  • Skip says:

    I’d buy that to a certain extent, Canthros, but I also seem to remember seeing new editions of books with very minor revisions, maybe a chapter or two added. I always assumed that it was a way to kill the used textbook market.

  • Rob Crawford says:

    “My alma mater issued me a 166MHz Pentium laptop as a freshman. We were reckoned as relatively cutting edge, what with the 10- and 100BaseT ethernet in the dorm rooms.”

    The laptop is relatively new. My alma mater had desktops in 3/4ths of the dorm rooms by 1989, and 10MB ethernet to those rooms by 1993. Before that, the network was an AT&T circuit-switched network that behaved remarkably like a phone switching center…

    We didn’t have deathmatches, because the games hadn’t been written yet. Closest we got was “Starcontrol” where each player got half the keyboard.


  • Kay B. Day says:

    Textbook publishing is one of the most profitable sectors in traditional publishing. After all you’re selling to a captive audience, and the industry is creative.

    Often professors at a college will edit or write a book, get their names on it, and then require the young scholars to purchase it.

    One of our younger daughter’s classes in graphic design required a basic computer guide (printed with a soft cover, like a magazine with a sturdier cover than normal). The “book” was maybe 90 pages. The cost was $98, and the book could not be returned for future credit.

    Text publishing is a racket.

  • Jeff says:

    Textbooks have always been expensive. The worst were the ones self-published by the professors. This is nothing new really. And I must have gone to college about the same time Moe did. My college had computers, on campus, in a special room where you could check out time on them. I wrote papers on a typewriter. A TYPEWRITER. It was electric though, much better than the manual one I had in high school.

  • Canthros says:

    Skip: I think this is the Chaos Manor link I was thinking of. A long run of (relatively) cheap books is probably preferable to numerous short runs of expensive books, anyway. Used book sales are going to be heavily influenced by new book prices: the more expensive the new copy is, the more desirable the used copy becomes.

    All that malarkey was well underway when I was a student, though. I think the Calculus textbooks underwent multiple revisions over the first year and a half I was in college.

    re: ethernet
    Yes, yes. Everyone is older than me. Got it. 🙂 The alma mater ripped the last of the BNC’d coax (for CAT3/CAT5 cabling) network connections out the summer after my freshman year. I think they completed the switch from 10BaseT to 100BaseT on the whole campus by the time I graduated.

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