Textbook overfitting

One reason why textbooks are so expensive is because you can’t just substitute it with another book on the same subject and do as well in the class, let alone pass sometimes I guess.

Doesn’t that mean the professor overfit their teaching model, or what?

Been going on for years and years.

Also, authors changing two paragraphs and calling it the “new edition” forcing students to buy new books instead of older used versions.

That was back in the olden ages where kids actually got books instead of electronic access.

1 Like

Shoutout to that one prof who wrote their own textbook and offered it for like $15.

I had one math class where the professor who found a textbook he really liked that you could get for about $20 online.

Robert Brown did that in his Ratemaking & Reserving course I took at UW.

The course summary sheet said “The book, the whole book, and nothing but the book.”

Hmmm the newer edition is $80 so that’s not as cool.

UWaterloo has textbooks for their second year stats & probability courses; $20 if you want a printed copy or free if you want the download. They should do more of this. It’s not like stats/calculus undergrad stuff changes that quickly over time.

Course there’s the other prof who made us buy the textbook he wrote, that cost like $80 and was worthless outside the course. Now he’s gone, the course has gone back to the commonly accepted text for the course.

My class with the $20 book was math but I forget which course it was. And that was his reasoning: this stuff hasn’t changed in a long time.

Pretty sure it was an econ class where the prof wrote his book and had it printed on campus. He was really upset at the cost of books and he sold it for what it cost him to have it printed basically.

I’m surprised that colleges aren’t using this as a marketing tool. I mean, this is the one cost not discussed too much when looking at schools. Textbooks can cost up to $200 each, so times four or five classes, you’re looking at another $1000 a term/year.
(Not worried about rich folks and their private schools. More focused on the marginally financial partition.)

I recently tutored a student online for several sessions in theory of interest. his 3rd edition book was expensive but I was able to get a moderately beat up 2nd edition on the cheap.

New 3rd edition would have been $100 paperback, $170 hardcover. What a racket.

James Daniel? Isn’t that the totally cool guy that used to do study guides?
But for me, theory of interest will always be Kellison.

1 Like

and it’s all the publishers. Bookstores make little on a textbook (wholesale is 20% of retail, and they have to pay credit card fees, shipping of books from the publisher and to the customer, and all their genreal expenses, all out of 20%), and authors make hardly any as well, That’s why it’s sometimes tough to get authors to write textbooks. Unless you sell a ton, they’ll spend a year of their life for like $20-$30k. Not worth it for someone smart enough to write a textbook.
Source: Well, you know. I used to run a textbook store.

The rights fees pay the authors, if no-one is buying books then there won’t be new books written. Sometimes there is overkill like coming out with new editions every two years but eventually the textbooks do need to be updated and rewritten.

Also as a practical matter if everyone has a different text then the professors won’t be able to create a presentation that students will be able to follow in their books. Also in a math or stats class almost all professors give assignments from the book. How do they do that if everyone has a different book?

One of my professors was writing a textbook so instead of buying a textbook, we paid like $15 to the math department to compensate for paper, toner, and wear & tear on the copier, and we bought a 3-ring binder. The professor would bring a chapter or so every few classes for us to add to our binders.

I missed not having a Table of Contents and an Index more than I thought I would, but it sure was a lot more economical than a textbook. Almost all of his examples / problems were either Star Trek or Dagwood (from the comic strip Blondie) and I’ve often wondered since if he actually had the needed copyrights to use them. Maybe you don’t need copyrights to reproduce that stuff in educational material???

I was hoping this thread was about these:

User name checks out, lol.

1 Like

I would much rather pay a lot for a decent textbook than use the “free” curriculum we are supposed to follow.

*I say “free” because everything can be accessed and printed online. Some genius at the charter organization decided a few years ago to spend millions of dollars to have all of the student books printed to have in the classroom. The books are such crap that most of them are still in the plastic wrap they came in.