Tuesday, September 03, 2002

The Textbook Dance

I almost bought $144 textbook today, almost being the operative word - once it scanned, I decided I didn't need a Market Research book that badly (especially when it's available on amazon.com for $108). I highly dislike the mad hunt for textbooks. Right now, I need some opinions.

Here's the thing. Along with textbooks, we also have to buy course packets. The course packets run from cheap ($12) to expensive ($95). Keep in mind that these are photocopied magazine articles or Harvard Business cases. In other words, packets with absolutely no resellable value and just basically paper you throw away. A friend and I bought one course packet together - it's 835 pages and cost $63 - so, $31.50 apiece. Neither of us wanted to spend time photocopying, so we decided that we would just share the one packet between the two of us. Fine. But here's the deal: other people want to copy our packet. I said that they were more than welcome to chip in with Kenny and me on the packet - after all, the more people involved, the cost of the packet comes down. The friend who asked was highly insulted, pointing out how much it would cost to photocopy the darn thing at 4 cents a page - which would cost rougly $32 when all is said and done. So people who photocopy the packet would definitely pay more for it than Kenny and I did as not only would they have to pay us, they would have to pay for the photocopies as well. But my point is that Kenny and I are the ones who made the initial outlay. Is it so wrong for us to ask for a contribution to defray our costs before we let others photocopy the packet?

In another case, about 10 of us are chipping into buy a $90 packet - which mean we each pay $9 towards the cost of the original and then the amount to photocopy it. Which means it's a win-win situation all around. Which I completely agree with. What I don't agree with is subsidizing someone else's materials, especially when I'm just as money-strapped as they are and I truly dislike the attitude in which people think that they can just borrow someone's textbooks/packets without compensating the original buyer at all. In fact, the person who asked me about it was completely floored when I asked if she was going to borrow the packet from someone and if so, let me know who so I could give them some money towards the initial cost.

Your thoughts?

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