Friday news round-up: Textbook prices, John Krasinski, TextBuyIt

[3 April 2008]

By Nikki Tranter

The mystery of the overpriced textbook solved
If you’ve ever questioned just how your college textbook bill tops $500+ each and every semester, check out Greg Eichten’s report at The Winonan. Eichten comments on a presentation by bookstore owner Chris Livingston on the high cost of text books.

In order to compete with used books, publishers employ tactics such as turning out several editions of a textbook that are only slightly altered, including websites and DVDs to accompany the textbooks, and printing smaller quantities of books on a need basis. All of these factors contribute to increased cost.

The article also offers a breakdown on just where that $100-a-book goes. How much does the author get, the publisher, the bookstore? I often wonder why students don’t revolt over book prices. This article makes the argument that students resist complaining because they know the books are so beneficial to their education. But what if you simply can’t afford them? I remember when I completed my MA, the textbooks were so far our of my price range that I was forced to use Amazon’s “search inside” tool for much of my research. It worked, opened the door to many other works not available in store, and barely cost a dime.

Student seeks books
Or there’s this idea… Check out this great bit about Mount Shasta students and their novel way of sourcing school texts. Mitchell Nesheim is the mastermind behind Books for Bears. The gist is this: Mitchell sends out a list of sought-after school texts (Jack London, Emily Bronte, etc) and if you happen to have the listed books on your shelf at home gathering dust, he asks that you donate them to the school. That way, libraries will be stocked and students won’t need waiting lists to get their reading done. Do it!

John Krasinski

John Krasinski

Adapting David Foster Wallace
Office star John Krasinski talks to the New York Times about his efforts adapting David Foster Wallace’s story “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”:

I know there are way bigger David Foster Wallace fans, but I found “Brief Interviews” at a time where I was expanding my brain in any way I could, and he was just one of the authors that really rocked things for me. I’m still reading all his stuff and still trying to understand him better and better, because it takes a long time.

Buy books from your phone
Amazon thinks of everything. First the Kindle, now TextBuyIt, which allows you to search for and buy books on your cell phone. The AC reports:

You can search by name or by using the products UPC code. Amazon will then send you a text back with information on the product, and its price. You then text back a reply. If you decide to purchase the item, Amazon.com will send an automated telephone call to your cell phone to give you full details on your Amazon purchase and let you confirm your order. This all takes place from the convenience and comfort of your cell phone.

Apparently, the benefits here are convenience and easy price-sourcing. If you’re wandering a bookstore and see something you like, just get on your phone and find out if Amazon offers it cheaper. That’s great, but I’m starting to think Amazon is an invention away from taking over the world.

Cycling author dies
Eugene A. Slaone, author of The Complete Book of Bicycling, has died. The Chicago Tribune looks back:

[Sloane’s book] come out in 1970. Covering everything from how to buy a bicycle to detailed explanations on maintenance and repair, it filled a void and caught on quickly with an American public just starting to embrace bikes in large numbers.

And finally…
Remember Bookworms with Ink? Well, one of the contributors there, LasciviousL, has posted his/her new tattoo, and it’s just gorgeous. Look at “State O’Maine”, from John Irving’s The Hotel New Hampshire, here.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/friday-news-round-up-textbook-prices-john-krasinski-textbuyit1/