Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Bookbuying Woes

I noticed that the text for the Exempt Organization Seminar is egregiously expensive. The Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations, 8th ed. (ISBN 0471268208) is currently offered in the Boalt Bookstore at $187.50 for a used copy. This is the most expensive assigned text I have even seen. If anyone else is taking this class (and there can't be too many of you) I suggest you check out the Amazon Marketplace listings, where there are a few used copies around $20, and some new ones for $70.

UPDATE: The professor of the Exempt Organization Seminar was so appalled at the price of the assigned text that he decided to not require it for the course.

It's no secret that the bookstore here at Boalt (run by Ned's Books, not the university) is consistently the most expensive place to buy casebooks. Students are encouraged to buy our books at the Boalt store because there is a slight kickback of profits to BHSA. In fact, the Boalt administration is so invested in ensuring that students overpay for their casebooks at Ned's Books that it intentionally releases the list of assigned texts only one or two business days before classes start, in order to make online ordering difficult. Most students then end up going to the Boalt bookstore because they want to have their books in hand before classes start in order to do the first day's reading - as it is hard to find an online retailer who will deliver a Friday order to you by Sunday without charging an egregious shipping fee (buying directly from Amazon, especially if you have Amazon Prime, is an exception to this).

When the difference is only $10 per casebook it's hard for me to justify the hassle and wait of ordering online, but more often then not, the price difference is much greater (especially if you use services like half.com, ebay, or Amazon Marketplace - all of which can be searched simultaneously by ISBN through a website like akabook).

Ned's Books has what it believes is a captive market (again, assisted by Boalt administration) and therefor has no motivation to offer a competitive price. The best solution I have found so far is to make all my casebook purchases at Ned's Books, then order the same books online, then return the read, but unmarked Ned's Books casebooks when my discount books arrive (usually a few days before the return deadline). Also, instructors typically decide on their casebooks early, and will tell you what they are if you email them in advance.

Yes, I'm Jewish (insert cultural stereotype here).

PS - If anyone else has encountered any particularly egregious instances of price-gouging by Ned's Books feel free to post it in the comments area. Also, I welcome any arguments about why students should consciously overpay for our casebooks.


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[And, Patrick wonders: do I really need to buy the WOA reader? I didn't even touch the LRW reader.]

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

patrick, if you can share the woa reader with a friend, do that. there is ONE of the readings for woa i found helpful, did not touch the book otherwise. if you dont buy it, you wont really suffer though.

as for other price gouging, last year, before someone complained to menelle about it, the bookstore was charging $25 for the first "reader" for intro to IP. a reader which consisted of - i'm not kidding - the SYLLABUS for the class, plus about 10 pages of slides. it was insane. thankfully menell took pity and made the slides available for photocopying ....

the delayed release of the books is pretty ridiculous. thanks for drawing attention to it.

1/13/2008 4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a positive note, I was happy to see that Boalt seems to be doing away with the old bulletin board method of finding out your first assignment and instead is having them posted online.

Hopefully the next step will be posting textbooks online (and in advance).

1/13/2008 4:38 PM  
Blogger MRP said...

Patrick - I totally (or quoting MH - all-encompassingly) agree with you. Getting the info from the professor and buying the casebook early is clearly the best idea. The buy-buy-return routine is when you can't get any information early enough, or, for example, if you just went to the bookstore today and were horrified at your bill.

1/13/2008 4:41 PM  
Blogger MRP said...

4:38 - Where is the online posting of first assignments?

1/13/2008 4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I kind of enjoy the irony of overpaying for my antitrust book. That's the only pro-overpaying argument I've got.

Also, first day assignments should be listed under the "courses at boalt" section of the school website.

1/13/2008 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First assignments are posted under the course description on the boalt website (go to Courses - Courses at Boalt - Spring 2008 - choose your class and scroll to the bottom of the description).

Although it seems only about 1/2 of my classes have posted assignments thus far...

1/13/2008 5:03 PM  
Blogger MRP said...

Thanks. None of my professors have posted assignments.

1/13/2008 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found the WOA textbook at the bottom of my locker at the end of the year last year--never opened. Apparently a syllabus was distributed with assigned readings. Or maybe the syllabus was inside the reader? In any event, they were never ever discussed in the few classes. If they had been discussed, I might have realized I was not doing the reading. But I only found out after I turned in the brief. Don't buy. If your prof decides to go his/her own way and really make use of it, you can always buy it later.

1/13/2008 8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm half jewish, do the buy-buy-return too. Retail is for goyim! ;)

1/13/2008 9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bookstore has all the readers done at copycentral, brings them up the street, and charges a hefty markup. Sure, some profit goes to BHSA, but most goes to Ned's. Seems like we could find a more efficient way of funding ourselves than this. No reason we couldn't pick up the readers down at copycentral like every other department.

1/13/2008 9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also do the buy-return. I'm not Jewish, but I am circumcised.

1/14/2008 6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the bookstore's actions are totally defensible. It is important for us as law students to support our law school community by funding student activities through BHSA (which means buying books and supplies and t-shirts at our bookstore). Our student government RELIES on the money coming from the revenues from the bookstore. and in turn it funds IMPORTANT student groups that bring supplemental educational programs to our campus. Its almost like buying two educational tools for the price of one.

also, I think the author of the post is clearly trying to put
Ms. Joyce out of a job by promoting alternatives - mind you CORPORATE alternatives - that have no personal connection to our law school community.

thirdly, the author of the post sounds like a conspiracy theorist...SURE, the administration AND Neds AND all of our professors are in it together to get us to buy solely from the bookstore. I bet they are hiding the evidence from Roswelt as well.

lastly, no one actually does their reading for classes far (read: weeks) in advance. Usually reading gets done the night before a class. If you are starting your law school reading more than two days before classes begin....consider a good lay instead.

1/14/2008 8:49 PM  
Blogger Armen said...

It's Roswell genius. The rest of your post actually makes you look stupider amazingly. Let's parse through some of the gems shall we.

I think the bookstore's actions are totally defensible.

...by idiots like me.

It is important for us as law students to support our law school community by funding student activities...

Uh hum. Nodding head violently in approval. Amen to that. We all need Guacfests and random keggers.

...through BHSA (which means buying books and supplies and t-shirts at our bookstore)

WTF? You mean unlike almost every other student government? You know the ones that are funded through direct fees? Now I didn't write the original post, but whenever I have written about the issue I've made it abundantly clear, I and I'm sure most Boalties would be more than happy to directly fund BHSA. Hell, part of our funds already go to support the melodrama that is ASUC. We all pay for the RSF. I certainly wouldn't mind paying for BHSA, and by implication all student orgs at Boalt.

Now, the rest of your post doesn't make you sound like the brightest apple in the bunch, and I'm afraid there are some numbers involved in the analysis that follows, so I hope you concemetrate extraaaaaa haaaaaaard. OK?

Option 1 (the one you like): Force students to buy Book A at $100. $2 goes to BHSA from the purchase. Student spends $100. BHSA gets $2.

Option 2 (the one I like): Force students to pay say $3 in fees to BHSA. Student buys book at half.com for $60. Never reads it. Student spends $63. BHSA gets $3. Everyone's happy.

Get it?

Our student government RELIES on the money coming from the revenues from the bookstore. and in turn it funds IMPORTANT student groups that bring supplemental educational programs to our campus. Its almost like buying two educational tools for the price of one.

Yawn. Pass the Guacamole and beer half of my education. RELIES...IMPORTANT...blah blah blah. Get off your self-righteous high horse. I just explained that BHSA and every other student org can get more money if they used direct fees. No need to whine about it.

also, I think the author of the post is clearly trying to put Ms. Joyce out of a job by promoting alternatives - mind you CORPORATE alternatives - that have no personal connection to our law school community.

Ms. J is great. Always a delight to talk to. With that said, Ms. J is a Ned's employee. And the law school is screwing it's students royally to support Ned's. OMG, some people might buy books from Amazon...a corporation. Oh God, the horror, the horror. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. And I'm sure Ned's is a sole proprietership.

thirdly, the author of the post sounds like a conspiracy theorist...SURE, the administration AND Neds AND all of our professors are in it together to get us to buy solely from the bookstore. I bet they are hiding the evidence from Roswelt as well.

This is my favorite quote. It's just brilliant in its simplicity. Take statements that are true, and label them as conspiracy theories. Brilliant. What part do you actually think is NOT true? The part that book lists for classes are not available to students? The part that Ned's is the only bookstore selling legal textbooks on campus? The part that the listed book prices are consistently $10 more than the suggested retail prices? I'm just curious. What part of that is a conspiracy theory? This is nothing that the school denies. In fact, genius, you just harped about how much BHSA needs this money and that we're the a-holes for trying to find ways around the Ned's stronghold. So, we're lunatics for wondering why we don't have a freedom of choice but also jerkoffs for trying to get Ms. J out of a job? Funny, I would have thought the two were mutually exclusive, but what do I know? I don't even know what Roswelt is (maybe the 32nd President?).

lastly, no one actually does their reading for classes far (read: weeks) in advance. Usually reading gets done the night before a class. If you are starting your law school reading more than two days before classes begin....consider a good lay instead.

So, Casanova, you want me to support the BHSA by buying overpriced books (one half of my education right?) and then not read them. I won't mention the flaws in your argument regarding getting laid in Berkeley.

What really troubles me, is that you're a student at Boalt. You obviously talk the talk. And I wouldn't be surprised if you were a member of BHSA. Which is really tragic. Instead of spearheading initiatives to improve the lot of Boalt's most precious resource-its students-you're sitting on your keyboard mindnumbingly spewing diatribe about buying books from corporations or depriving people of jobs. Well done. It's thanks to idiots like you that the school faces such an uphill battle in improving its position.

1/14/2008 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

armen = my hero

i just don't understand the view held by Boalt's left wing that that corporations (for which 85% will work after graduation) are ALWAYS bad. ah well. guess i should have gone to business school.

1/15/2008 10:15 AM  
Anonymous chaparral ben said...

Patrick, is it ethical to deliberately buy books from Ned's with the intention of returning them when your online orders arrive? Is this acting in good faith and fair dealing? And is it the type of conduct that a (future) attorney should engage in? In regard to the economics, bear in mind that the bookstore provides a service to the students by committing to provide enough texts (which necessarily entails significant handling and shipping costs when unsold texts have to be returned to the publisher). And obviously Ned's can't achieve the economies of scale of Amazon.

1/16/2008 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, to the BHSA crony, what has BHSA done for 75% of us? Nothing. How about Ned's drops the 7% contribution to BSHA and cuts prices on all the books by 7%? Then, do a BHSA fee across the board. First of all, you will know how much you are giving to BHSA and everyone will be contributing equally. As it is right now, if you aren't buying your books at Ned's, you are free riding on BHSA benefits by those who are. I have probably given BHSA $120 these two semesters. And I have seen in return...? I mean, they can't even update their website. Pathetic.

2/04/2008 8:26 PM  
Blogger All about free info said...

Check out this site www.bookase.com, A price comparison search engine for books and textbooks. It searches for the lowest prices among the major online stores worldwide and also offers discount coupons. You can also choose among various shipping options to calculate the lowest price

10/09/2009 6:04 AM  

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