Sunday, August 22, 2004

Students go to Mexico to copy textbooks plus textbook cost rant

Texas college students are buying textbooks, copying them in Mexico, then returning them.

South Texas college students looking to save money are heading to Mexico to copy their textbooks before returning them for a refund. Jules Frapart, general manager of the Book Bee in Brownsville, said students commonly buy books from him, copy them in Matamoros, Mexico, and return them.

Apparently an entire 300 page textbook can be copied and bound in Mexico for only $13.00. That's much cheaper than the $100 that students are charged for the texts . Houston Chronicle article here.

Being in law school, I have paid out at least $400 per semester for books (often more). What really pisses me off is that the publishers constantly put out these "new editions" in order to keep students from buying used texts. Typically the new editions are very slightly modified from the former edition, a simple additional pamphlet would do. Students do not know what the difference is so they just buy the new version. This forces students to pay out more, and keeps other students from getting a little bit of their money back on old books.

Just because - see 6th edition Contracts here, 10th edition Torts here, and 9th edition Evidence here. They are all nearly $100 and professors typically require supplemental books as well. Not only that but a horn book, commercial outline or other study aides for a final exam can easily run another $30. I have certainly paid out over $200 for certain classes just on books and study materials.

Here is a former post about how book publishers would like to remove people's right to sell used books at all (first sale doctrine). Publishers claim that used book stores are the "Napster of books."

UPDATE: Here's another post about students pirating textbooks online.


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