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Books Education The Almighty Buck

Student Bookstores Beware, Amazon Comes To Purdue Campus 95

First time accepted submitter Kilroy1218 writes After freezing tuition past their original deadline Purdue University announced a partnership with Amazon today which aside from greatly competitive book pricing "will bring staffed customer order pickup and drop-off locations to Purdue's campus, as well as expedited shipping benefits phased in over the course of the 2014-2015 academic year." “This relationship is another step in Purdue’s efforts to make a college education more affordable for our students,” said President Mitch Daniels. “With the pressure on college campuses to reduce costs, this new way of doing business has the potential to change the book-buying landscape for students and their families.”
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Student Bookstores Beware, Amazon Comes To Purdue Campus

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:13PM (#47668075)

    They didn't change the tuition after a certain deadline, they extended the time within which their tuition won't change.

    In addition, this doesn't do anything to change the book-buying landscape for students. Students always had the option of buying books online through Amazon.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You know what else is going to happen...Amazon will temporarily save the students money, the prices will go down by cutting out the bookstore overhead, and the publishers will jack up (or off) their overpriced books so that they cost from Amazon what they did from ye olde bricke ande mortare store. And plenty of people will lose their jobs to the Amazon robots just as before.

    • Students always had the option of buying books online through Amazon.

      Not when I was in school we didn't. That said, yes, it's been an option for some time now. On the other hand, there's no guarantee every textbook will be available. Perhaps this agreement guarantees that any textbook assigned to a Purdue student will be carried. The university may also have negotiated a group discount.

    • Really douche bag? Most college textbooks are only available through the campus bookstore. They even try and cut down on the used book market with courses requiring students to purchase new editions. Take your head out of your ass. This is a good thing.
    • I don't think Amazon, as evil as they are, are the real culprit in this scenario. Educational publishing has always been used as a way to fleece learners for extra cash. I doubt Purdue are any exception. In contrast, non-profit, egalitarian educational publishing is quite different, e.g. a course text book, authored by one of the leading researchers in his field, is free to download and print as the whole book or chapter by chapter: [] It's Creative Commons licensed so learner

  • How long before Amazon stops selling books to the Purdue students (and Amazon's contract with Purdue prevents anyone else from selling books to the Purdue students) because Amazon thinks the book prices are too high?
    • Hachete (Score:4, Interesting)

      by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:48PM (#47668229)

      Will they allow professor's to assign Hachette textbooks? Can student's order Hachette study guides?

    • If you are referring to the Hachette spat, you might want to reexamine your understanding of the situation - no Hachette books have been removed from sale, you can still buy every Hachette book that you could before. What Amazon did do is remove pre-orders from unreleased Hachette books - you can still buy them when they are released, they just aren't allowing you to preorder - they are under no obligation to allow preorders on books either.

  • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) < minus caffeine> on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:22PM (#47668119) Homepage

    Unless they're going to buy the books back, student bookstores aren't going anywhere. Gotta do something with those $4-15k/yearly in books after you're done using them...and getting $250 back.

    • Unless they're going to buy the books back, student bookstores aren't going anywhere.

      Around here the buyback is done by folks who set tents up on the streetcorners, not the bookstore.

    • Re:Well (Score:5, Informative)

      by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:44PM (#47668203) Homepage

      The US textbook market is crazy.

      An easy example is Campbell's Biology Plus MasteringBiology - a pretty standard 1st year Biology textbook. Amazon UK [] price $87.56. Price for the US equivalent [] is $190.40.

      • Re:Well (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2014 @12:15AM (#47668539)

        It helps to make apples to apples comparisons - you are comparing a text alone to a text with online support suite, something that costs around $75-125 without buying the physical book.

        Here's the probability text I'll be teaching out of this fall: $145.79 $191.80

        Similarly, here's the most popular 3-semester calculus text: $223.41 $270.53

        • I believe I linked to both copies that included the MasteringBiology. The only difference seemed to be that US one might have a copy of the text as an e-book. I doubt making an encrypted PDF or equivalent merits the huge price difference.

          Still your comment about the probability book is interesting. I wonder if this is particular to mathematics?

          Here' s another example from Chemistry: Organic Chemistry by Bruice. In the US it's hardcover, in the UK paperback.

          Amazon UK [] price $99.96
          Amazon US [] price $240.60


      • Re:Well (Score:5, Funny)

        by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @01:04AM (#47668671)

        It costs extra to have editors redact all the bits about evolution.

      • by rgbscan ( 321794 )

        I always buy a used book from Amazon. Anyone paying full sticker at the campus book store is getting robbed. Last years edition is almost always fine (unless the instructor is using the accompanying courseware - but generally my school has stayed away from that). The ebooks especially are a bad deal since you just rent them and can't re-sell them.

        For my statistics class this fall the text is: Statistical Techniques in Business and Economics 16th Edition, ISBN 0078020522. $292 at the campus bookstore, $248 n

    • by thieh ( 3654731 )
      At least it is better than Aspen where you pay them money and you have to return the case book at the end of the term
    • Holy Cow! What is your course of study where the books are that much?

      I don't know what the books cost - my kid handles it himself, but I haven't heard the outcry I would expect for a 2nd year Mechanical Engineering major to be screaming if it were anywhere near that.

      At any rate, I do know that he buys his books "online" (Amazon and others) and may or may not sell them at the end of the term, since the online purchases were so much cheaper to start with vs list price at the campus book store.

      (Not to
      • Re:$4-15K/year (Score:5, Interesting)

        by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @12:08AM (#47668525)

        Another shady practice is faculty writing their own textbook and then requiring it be used when they teach related courses, when it appears there's a well-accepted standard text in use by 90% of other schools where the particular subject is taught.

        • Another shady practice is faculty writing their own textbook and then requiring it be used when they teach related courses, when it appears there's a well-accepted standard text in use by 90% of other schools where the particular subject is taught.

          While in some cases this may actually be "shady," if a professor writes a book that actually gets published by reputable publisher, then you may be getting something that's more relevant and tailored to the class you're actually taking, rather than some generic textbook. (Only once, in grad school, did I ever purchase a book authored by the professor that I thought was completely useless -- we only used it for about a week of the class. But that also was not a textbook -- it was a monograph, and I now kno

          • By the way, after I wrote my comment, I did some searching. Until now, I was not aware of how "customized textbook editions" for specific universities has apparently become a thing [] in some places.

            Needless to say, I'm appalled by this if it involves professors getting a kickback for including a chapter of their own in the "customized" edition. In my field, to my knowledge the standard intro textbooks have never come in any sort of "customized edition," so I didn't even know this was possible.

            I could po

            • by wwphx ( 225607 )
              I was taking a refresher algebra course at NMSU, not advanced stuff. Used copies of the text were in the campus bookstore at over $100 a pop. Looking up the ISBN on Amazon? Nothing. Turns out that NMSU provided about 10 pages of additional questions at the end of the book, making it unique.

              Rat bastards, all of 'em.
        • by necro81 ( 917438 )
          As a counter-annecdote: when I was taking a course in Fourier theory, the professor teaching the course was in the process of writing his own textbook on the subject. Each week or so we got a printed copy of the appropriate chapter. He had been working on it for a while, and it was more or less complete: with huge numbers of embedded mathematics (including lengthy derivations), graphs produced in Matlab, all properly typeset using LaTeX. It was a fantastic "text" (although not exactly in book form), and
      • Re:$4-15K/year (Score:4, Informative)

        by anarcobra ( 1551067 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @12:23AM (#47668557)
        When I was doing Electrical Engineering we needed about 10 to 15 books per year on average I think. Each book was between 100 and 200 Euros on average. Of course there were the usual texts by the professor or whatever, but those weren't that expensive usually. As you can imagine, by the second year most students didn't bother buying all the books anymore. Usually all you needed was the slides and maybe a couple of pages of the book that you could copy from somewhere. If during the classes you noticed that the book really would be useful, that's when you'd buy it.
      • Not to mention the nasty habit of "revisions" happening all the time. I do remember one $200-ish AP Chem book for HS we got online for quite a bit less... had the same material, but the pg numbers were off and the exercises were a bit different... obvious changes to make the book "obsolete". I wonder how much is the Author and how much is the Publisher making these minor tweaks to create artificial obsolescence?

        I know some people who have written standard textbooks in a couple different fields. The general impression I've gotten from them is that they are usually NOT in favor of creating new editions all the time. Generally there are some kinks to work out in the first edition, but definitely by the second or third edition, things should be pretty set. The authors I've talked to have mentioned they are often under pressure from publishers to make changes to justify new editions. And, in fact, that's often why

    • by hazem ( 472289 )

      Amazon already buys a lot of textbooks back, and for about the same crummy price the school bookstore gives you. If you look over at the right side, there's often a "trade in your item" with a proposed price.

    • Actually Amazon usually gave me WAY better buyback rates than that eFollett shit store that holds a monopoly on most campuses. Granted Amazon's buybacks were in the form of Amazon gift cards, it wasn't a bad deal at all considering that you just reinvest that money into new books on Amazon, which were always cheaper anyways. And even if you didn't do that, I can't think of any one product I'd use that I can't find on Amazon, who usually ends up being cheaper than B&M stores anyways.

      (Oh, and that eFollet

    • Unless they're going to buy the books back, student bookstores aren't going anywhere. Gotta do something with those $4-15k/yearly in books after you're done using them...and getting $250 back.

      If your student bookstore will buy the book back, Amazon probably will too. The bookstore won't even always take the books, e.g. if they don't think they can sell them. Meanwhile, you are free to list your book on Amazon yourself, and Amazon will help you sell it to another student.

  • College bookstores have already become "fan gear" outlets instead of "book" stores due to online retailers. At least at our local university, which used to have a really good trade book section, and now has nothing other than texts, with a limited number of those. Amazon won this battle a long time ago, the bookstores just haven't quite figured out they are dead yet. Except when they change to become licensed sales outlets for branded fan items.
  • Where's the money? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nate the greatest ( 2261802 ) on Wednesday August 13, 2014 @10:30PM (#47668143)
    Here's an interesting detail not in the original post. According to what the bookstore director told me, the UC Davis bookstore only earned around $140 thousand in affiliate commissions in the first 6 months. Considering that the bookstore had revenues of around 20 million dollars last fiscal year (July to June 2014), the partnership doesn't look like it is worth anything to the bookstore. []
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You are comparing revenues to profits. $140k in commissions looks a lot nicer than $0 in commissions for those that buy from Amazon and at 2 percent commission, the revenues through this portal amounted to $7 million, or about 1/3 of the amount sold directly.

    • Do you have a vendetta against Amazon? I was about to call you out for mixing semiannual and annual, and profits and revenues, but then I recognized your name from your front page submission "Why the Public Library Beats Amazon."

      • A vendetta? Not at all. I just thought that was an interesting detail which might interest slashdotters. If it came out badly phrased then it was because I was distracted by other things.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Every university bookstore and publisher of college textbooks.

    Burn in bloody fucking hell.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    do this themselves... negotiate best prices possible for the books, even better than amazon or anyone else.. i mean, *they* are the ones generating the revenue for the publishers.. how is it even possible for amazon to get lower prices? if one publisher dont play ball, you fire them and go with someone else that's cheaper for similar material. easy peasy. fuck amazon. keep commercial shit like that off campus, please.

    • they get kickbacks and some professors write there own books and force you to buy new ones each year or you fail the class.

    • by digsbo ( 1292334 )
      You're kidding, right? Don't you know there are gentlemen's agreements between doctoral programs and publishers and schools to require the "newest" edition of the book each year just so the publisher and PhD can charge for new books which have changed only to change pagination? You think they'd actually want to save kids money? Do you also believe that universities want to educate students to help them think critically and independently?
    • by hazem ( 472289 )

      I suspect because Purdue is in the business of selling education services and not being a book vendor. They'd have to hire people to be experts in the business of book sales. It's the same way that most universities don't grow their own food or grow their own forests to build the desks and tables. Sure they could do that, but it's typically more efficient to leave it someone who specializes in that particular thing.

      As a book vendor, Amazon has so much more clout than a single university. Maybe a univers

  • My only reaction to this piece is: why is Amazon investing and 're-inventing' 19th-century technology? Why do major universities of the world even have paper textbooks? Their professors' course material should all be online, and in many cases it already is. That way it is accessible to everyone who needs it and pays for it. (no back orders!) The other benefit is that the author can update the text to reflect new information, and everyone has the new version instantaneously. And no more rapacious profi
    • Or you can pay $15-$20 more for a hard copy that you own and can resell and never gets locked out.

    • by afgam28 ( 48611 )

      In my experience ebooks are great for things like novels, where it's mostly paragraph after paragraph of text. But for textbooks that have a lot of images, tables, diagrams, mathematical formulae, source code snippets, etc. the formatting doesn't always come out looking nice.

      I think the epub format is basically zip'd html, and the kindle format is not that different. Text gets resized and reflowed according to the reader's screen size, and this means that things move around and don't look the way the author

      • You think right. HTML is a content markup language, not a format-preserving one. And when you're dealing with varying display sizes, that can be an advantage, although there's also an option to make PDF documents reflow.

        The main problems come from graphics, which typically either get butchered or displayed at unreadable sizes.

        If the book's graphics were designed with smaller screen sizes in mind, it's possible to make them more readable, but of course, there are limits.

      • Also, it's real easy to go to the next or previous page on my Nook. It's hard to jump around, like I tend to do for technical books. I much prefer those to be paper.

    • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @01:06AM (#47668681)

      Their professors' course material should all be online, and in many cases it already is. That way it is accessible to everyone who needs it and pays for it.

      For the life of the course. If, Chthulu forbid! you actually intended to learn something from the course, and wanted to go back and review material after the term ended, often your online resources have been terminated.

      I've got books from courses taken years ago, since I tended not to sell back. They aren't even remotely related to my career or daily life. But occasionally I'll take one off the shelf and page through one. They're a lot more entertaining now that I'm not under pressure to use them for class.

    • You really don't understand how the textbook publishing business work do you. Go do some research then come back and post. 19th century technology, really, try the internal combustion engine....moron....
      • I much prefer the thoughtful posts prior to yours that helped me understand the limitation of current e-book technology such as formatting problems and other limitations, such as expiration of access to the electronic textbook. You chose to call me a moron. That really doesn't advance the discussion. As far as "19-century technology," I am talking about the modern idea of mass-produced textbooks for use in schools, with machine-made bindings, pages of paper, not velum or papyrus, along with layouts, grap
        • Actually, with 21st-century technology, a book like that isn't all that expensive to produce, even in relatively small quantities. Providing a textbook in electronic form really isn't going to save the publisher much money. Therefore, it isn't going to change textbook prices much, since the difference in costs is trivial compared to what they charge.

          The issue is that students are effectively forced to buy stuff at monopoly prices.

  • Do the student bookstores have anything to do with setting the price? Is it not the publishers setting a large % of the price? Amazon can just beat them over the head with its purchasing power until the price per unit becomes acceptable. Why not re-jig these student bookstores to be the 'staffed customer order pickup and drop-off locations' for Amazon, instead of what sounds like replacing them with a new storefront?
  • How about you really help students save by encouraging your faculty to develop and use open source text books?
  • Anally rape you harder than the student bookstores do? I doubt it. College was a couple decades ago for me and my ass still hurts.
  • "The book-buying landscape for students and their families" has already been changed, by torrents and usenet.

  • Retail moves to national chain ... news at 11!
  • Except for rapidly-evolving subjects, encourage professors to use "old" textbooks or, whatever the subject matter, encourage professors to use "open source" textbooks when they are available.

    If publishers balk at reprinting old textbooks at "old prices," lobby Congress to allow colleges to reprint old textbooks and pay a royalty based on the lowest published price during the book's lifetime.

    Under this kind of "book market" most Freshman and Sophomores won't have more than 1 or 2 classes where they have to b

  • This doesn't fix the root cause of the problem. Why are text books so expensive? You can purchase textbooks from over seas with the nice logo above the UPC code that says "NOT FOR SALE IN THE UNITED STATES". Text books over seas are drastically lower in price. The information on the pages are exactly the same as the book you would buy in the US. Why can the publisher charge more for the same information? Why not find cheaper ways for producing the books? Change the paper, ink, revisions, etc. All th
  • I presume others had too. UT made there old bookstore a giant souvenor/brand-wear shop.
  • Wasn't planning on trying to go there, but I am now.

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