Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Are college admins and professors getting kickbacks from book publishers?

I read this the other day and saved it. Don't remember where I saw it:
The new semester started. Guess what? Not one of my required textbooks is below 100 bucks. I even have to buy a new 200 dollar spanish book because they just upgraded versions, with new key codes to access the online content that is required for the class. I just bought a 200 dollar spanish book last summer, well actually you can find the books online for around 10 dollars, what you are really paying for is the key codes. Seems to be the newest trend in University txt books. WTF people.
This is new to me, but after Googling around I found that key codes are common. I think this is simply a way to prevent college kids from saving their hard-earned dollars by forcing them to buy new editions each semester instead of buying used books.

I'd like to see an AG look into the college textbook racket. I think there's collusion going on between the book publishers and the admins and professors. College students are raped every semester by fees and this just adds to it. $200/book x 5 classes x 8 semesters over 4 years = $8,000 on textbooks. Who's pocketing all of this money?

Some have tried to do something about this, but the rip-off continues. Paging Greg Abbott!

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's not the professors. I know professors, including one who writes/edits textbooks, and they make pennies per book. There's no kickback. It's all going to the publisher. And yes, it's a scam.

Anonymous said...

My cousin is just starting college and I was startled at how much textbook prices have gone up by 50% in just the last few years. It used to be you could get the used copy for about 70% of the new price, now your lucky if you save five dollars. After doing a bit of research on one the books I found out they publish an "international" edition that sells for 1/3 of the cost of US version. Its the exact same book, it just says international edition on the cover. So once again, like with the pharaceuticals, here in the US where the corporations own our elected reps we get raped while everyone else gets to buy the products at a fair price. Of course this has given birth to companies that buy up the international copies and sell them in the US and of course they're being sued by the publishers for messing up their scam arrangement. I dont care what anyone says I know the profs dont make alot of each book, but there is collusion going on in the system. The publishers renumber the pages and re-release the book each year and the profs require the newest edition when the substance of the book hasnt changed. Im sure the school gets payola from the pubs for this practice or if they dont they are just being sadistic.

Anonymous said...

Textbook Publishers -- EXECUTE THESE FUGGERS.

Lou Minatti said...

It's not the professors.
Glenn Reynolds wrote me back and said the books are indeed overpriced, but he's not profiting from it.

The whole thing stinks, and I think there's still collusion going on between the decision makers at the colleges and the book publishers. College admins aren't doing anything about it.

Paul said...

For the average student, how much does physics, chemistry, calculus change? Not much. So, even a ten year old book should suffice. The rest can be done with online pdf postings and such.

It is the Professors. If they don't know it, they're idiots. But, I repeat myself.

Oh, I get it, they're victims too.


Isn't that special.

w said...

I expect this works like every other form of sales...black box money paid behind the scenes directly to the school. The higher up administrators probably get nice vacations for their families as well.

Funny Circus Bears said...

When I was in Uni in the late '80's I used physics and calculus texts from my grandfather's attic which were written in the '30's as refernece guides because they were both more comprehensive and complete than the overpriced shit I was forced to buy with my hard earned form repo'ing cars in the middle of the night.

I'm now paying even more for my kids college texts. I have to believe that someone will figure out a profitable E book business model that will cut retail by 90%.

w said...

Why can't Obama reform the evil textbook companies?

Anonymous said...

There are ghost writers who do most of the work for the pofs to signoff on...add a word or two and call it a new book to make obsolete all the used ones. The profs at major institutions are listed as a means to make the kick back legal...the bigger the ability to force customers to buy the bigger the kickback. Now I'm sure they have fancy answers to this, but I'm just saying what it smells like to me.

Anonymous said...

Another view point.

http://phibetacons.nationalreview.com/

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but this is such a scam! Roger Kamien's Music Appreciation text with CDs is $204 at my local college. It's the 9th edition and I'm told the 10th edition will be available next year meaning you $204 9th edition won't be worth dirt next year. The only thing that gets changed are minor things, like the order of pages or a few of the CDs; just enough so that you have to buy the new edition.

Who profits? Obviously the publishers. But they cannot do that in a vacuum. Professors and universites have to require the new texts, which I repeat do not differ significantly from the previous editions. The key word is kickback.

I started University studies in 1971 and, believe it or not, I'm still taking classes because I love to learn. In 1971, a scheme was undercoverd at the Univerity of Florida by which professors were getting lucritive kickbacks for this behavior. Some people got fired but the practice continues unabated to this day. The publishers and faculity just got more undercover with these deals.

What needs to happen is for state attorneys generals to invesitgate, prosecute and jail these crooks, both from the publishing community and the university community.

This is plain fraud and should be dealt with as so.

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Anonymous said...

Publishers will continue to make new editions to make money, that is a given. But they can't force students to buy these books, college admins and profs make students buy them. At my school, the professors usually select their books, and they are not blind to the price. Most tell us on the first day of class that we can just buy an older edition and it's pretty much the same thing. But this information NEVER appears in a syllabus, or in any kind of documentation that the student gets before term. Why do they do this? Most students buy the book before the start of class so by then it is too late. To me this says that they are aware of how outrageous the textbook business is, yet are unwilling to just use older editions, so why? I have a hard time believing that all professors just hate their students and want them to suffer (even if this were generally true, which it isn't, it's statistically improbable that all profs would feel this way), so they must be either getting kickbacks themselves or forced to keep their mouths shut by the university, who is, undoubtebly, getting kickbacks.

Cheap Viagra Online said...

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 i

Ondral said...

I teach anthropology and have stopped using textbooks. Introductory anthro textbooks cost $100+, but have little value in a true education. Anthro textbooks seem to written as if every beginning anthro student will become an anthropology professor. College textbooks provide simplistic answers to cowardly questions. There is far better sources of anthropological information freely on the web. We use Diigo to share links with each other and the world.

Faith said...

In my opinion every person ought to browse on it.

Anonymous said...

OF COURSE THE PROFESSORS are in on it. If not, then why do they require the newer more expensive textbook?

If there are no major differences in the newer edition from the older one, the professors would simply stay with what they have been using. It requires some efforts by the professors to adjust to the newer ed. as I am sure they have to upgrade their syllabus with the different page numbers and the slightly changed problems at the end of the chapters. Why would they do this extra work? Is it because they think you the student will get a better education? NOOOOOOO. It is because of the kickbacks that they will get. The kickbacks are sometimes money, but certainly not traceable. Mostly, the kickbacks are nice "Vacations", or out of state meetings I should say, sponsored by the publishers in order to "educate" the professors of the new and wonderful benefits (to the professors) for requiring the later editions.

Same goes for these online services, study aids, etc....all for an add'l fee to the student. Professors are starting to require students to register for online education aids that charge a fee (usually $20 - $50) to "enhance" the students learning. The only thing being enhanced is the professor's pocket.

The colleges know full well what is happening, but they turn a blind eye. Why? Because they use this as a benefit to the professors when discussing salary. The colleges do not have to pay the professors as much, making sure they know about the secondary financial benefits they could utilize. So, the colleges save money by not prohibiting professors from this scam.

I don't care how honest you think your school is or how nice your professor is to you. Even if you go to a wonderful "Christian" school or whatever. THEY ARE DOING THIS!!! GUARANTEED!!!

It's all about money...your money. Milking the student for every stinkin penny they can. It all started out with the bookstores scamming the students. Look at the sale price versus the buy back of all the textbooks and tell me it's NOT about the money.

Colleges are also starting to raise the cost of classes by changing the classes from 3 credits to 4 credits. This is done because they now charge fees based on credit hours and not courses taken.

Years ago, the colleges charged a set fee per class. That was how you were charged. Then, they started quoting college costs on price per credit hour and the same class that used to be 3 credits all of a sudden became 4 credits. 4 credit courses used to be the graduate level courses, but now, I am seeing more and more undergraduate classes that are 4 credits. My college that I gradutated from in the 90's had a business program where all of the classes were 3 credits. I now have a friend at that same college, in that same program taking the exact same courses, with the exact same course name, with the course number changed one digit up. These courses went from 3 credits to 4 credits. Nothing else changed except the costs to the student. So, even though the school says they had a slight increase in fees per credit hour, they try to hide the fact that they have upped the credit hours a course is worth. It's is a sneaky way to increase fees 25% while saying that costs have not gone up significantly. A course I took 12 years ago was $700 for a 3 credit class. that same class is now 4 credits and cost $1600.

Add in all the campus fees, parking fees, grounds fees, etc. the cost is getting insane.

So, if you believe that colleges are not into scamming and kickbacks, you may need a class on reality and real life.

I have a B.S., an M.B.A., and my J.D., as well as have many professional dealings and private conversations with those in the know. The quest to separate the student from his or her money is REAL...at any way they can do it.

Anonymous said...

OF COURSE THE PROFESSORS are in on it. If not, then why do they require the newer more expensive textbook?

If there are no major differences in the newer edition from the older one, the professors would simply stay with what they have been using. It requires some efforts by the professors to adjust to the newer ed. as I am sure they have to upgrade their syllabus with the different page numbers and the slightly changed problems at the end of the chapters. Why would they do this extra work? Is it because they think you the student will get a better education? NOOOOOOO. It is because of the kickbacks that they will get. The kickbacks are sometimes money, but certainly not traceable. Mostly, the kickbacks are nice "Vacations", or out of state meetings I should say, sponsored by the publishers in order to "educate" the professors of the new and wonderful benefits (to the professors) for requiring the later editions.

Same goes for these online services, study aids, etc....all for an add'l fee to the student. Professors are starting to require students to register for online education aids that charge a fee (usually $20 - $50) to "enhance" the students learning. The only thing being enhanced is the professor's pocket.

The colleges know full well what is happening, but they turn a blind eye. Why? Because they use this as a benefit to the professors when discussing salary. The colleges do not have to pay the professors as much, making sure they know about the secondary financial benefits they could utilize. So, the colleges save money by not prohibiting professors from this scam.

I don't care how honest you think your school is or how nice your professor is to you. Even if you go to a wonderful "Christian" school or whatever. THEY ARE DOING THIS!!! GUARANTEED!!!

It's all about money...your money. Milking the student for every stinkin penny they can. It all started out with the bookstores scamming the students. Look at the sale price versus the buy back of all the textbooks and tell me it's NOT about the money.

Colleges are also starting to raise the cost of classes by changing the classes from 3 credits to 4 credits. This is done because they now charge fees based on credit hours and not courses taken.

Years ago, the colleges charged a set fee per class. That was how you were charged. Then, they started quoting college costs on price per credit hour and the same class that used to be 3 credits all of a sudden became 4 credits. 4 credit courses used to be the graduate level courses, but now, I am seeing more and more undergraduate classes that are 4 credits. My college that I gradutated from in the 90's had a business program where all of the classes were 3 credits. I now have a friend at that same college, in that same program taking the exact same courses, with the exact same course name, with the course number changed one digit up. These courses went from 3 credits to 4 credits. Nothing else changed except the costs to the student. So, even though the school says they had a slight increase in fees per credit hour, they try to hide the fact that they have upped the credit hours a course is worth. It's is a sneaky way to increase fees 25% while saying that costs have not gone up significantly. A course I took 12 years ago was $700 for a 3 credit class. that same class is now 4 credits and cost $1600.

Add in all the campus fees, parking fees, grounds fees, etc. the cost is getting insane.

So, if you believe that colleges are not into scamming and kickbacks, you may need a class on reality and real life.

I have a B.S., an M.B.A., and my J.D., as well as have many professional dealings and private conversations with those in the know. The quest to separate the student from his or her money is REAL...at any way they can do it.