Textbooks in a Working Class Community

I told you about the church thrift shop, where a lot of people were picking. This is a working class community, but being in a big city, we have a lot of colleges, and a lot of pretty good ones. The goofy thing is that you go into the college textbook exchanges on facebook, and you see a lot of people selling cars and other things.

It’s only at the end of the semester when textbooks get sold, and the prices are pretty high. The young people already know the textbook game, and they also need the money, so the prices are pretty high: $5 and up, with a lot going for more than $10. They’re already doing photocopies, buying old editions, and other schemes to save money. Some profs are kind and don’t require new books to be purchased.

I’m sure there is still money to be made, but it is going to be closer to areas where the students don’t worry about money as much, and where the books are likely to be the more rare, expensive ones.

The textbook universe seems to be split into two parts: the slow changing classics, and the annually changing scamsters. I call them scamsters, because I don’t see how knowledge can change so quickly that you need a whole new textbook every few years, or every year.

For example, I really like Diana Hacker’s Rules for Writers, but I doubt if the English language changes so often as to require putting the year as the edition.

I got a copy of Yu and Meng’s Principles of DB Query Processing, which is twenty years old, and still relevant – it seems like commercial products only started to go beyond what this book discusses in the past decade, and the types of databases discussed are still in use. It’s still worth a few dollars, and lists for a lot.

Author: John

I can be reached at johnk@riceball.com.

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