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Posts Tagged ‘textbooks’


Lost shoes in Isla Vista.

Lost shoes in Isla Vista.

At first I was going to write about how I thought that putting textbooks on the Kindle was a bad idea, then while writing I realized that I was wrong.

Wrong in the sense that from my point of view (a physics student) I need physical textbooks so the Kindle did not work for me, however by the sound of it it would work really well for a lot of other majors.

Thinking to my general education classes such as history or comparative literature it would have been easier to throw the multitude of fifty dollar textbooks onto a Kindle to carry to class instead of hauling around the glossy pages. The same goes for art history courses, geography and film studies. Those books are just flat out heavy and unneeded once the course is over.

Some classes cannot be fully transfered to a device like the Kindle. Any language class needs workbooks, upper division science books (for the most part) would serve better in paper format and quick reference books like tables of integrals.

One reason I would really like a Kindle (or would have early on) is so I can store all of the homework assignments, solutions and online lecture notes together in one place. Reading PDFs off the screen is not very pleasant, having them together would really facilitate studying and homework. Especially when you put all of the lecture notes from all of your major classes onto the device.

That would be pretty sweet.

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Reflections in Rick Carpenters' art studio.

Reflections in Rick Carpenters' art studio.

It tends to be a dreaded moment when going to purchase books only to find that the textbook for the class is written by the professor. On one occasion I dropped a class because not only was the textbook by the professor but several others were by other faculty members (this was hardly the only reason though). The fact that they have a book is a sign that they know what they are talking about, it is bad because they might just be bad writers and they are assigning it because it is theirs. Furthermore there is then only one perspective for the class: the professor’s.

So when I signed up for Astrobiology the books was written by the professor (Kevin Plaxco) but as it was only twenty dollars used I did not feel so bad. I also skimmed through it and there was fortunately little chemistry diagrams or tables. Since astrobiology is a relatively new field I felt that it would be okay (compared to a professors book in English or Political Science).

The second week of the class the professor did something that I felt was just a good thing to do. He reimbursed everyone of us for the money he made from us buying his book. Turns out he only makes fifty cents a copy sold.

He did this because when he was an undergraduate a professor did it for him and it made a lasting impression, he said that if he ever published a book and taught a class with it he would do the same. Now I am going to say that if I ever publish a book and am lucky enough to teach a class using that book I will also pay back the students the money I make off the book.

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Textbooks

Some things are more expensive then textbooks.

Some things are more expensive then textbooks.

 

It is that time of year again. The smell of freshly opened cardboard, stacks of paper gleaming on the shelves, yellow stickers proclaiming bargains. The season for textbooks.

The bookstore is freshly stocked, courses have had their reading assigned and all is left is for the books to be plucked fresh from the shelves.

Of course that will cost a lot more then other means.

The internet has filled an interesting gap in an other monopolistic industry of university textbook sales. Without the internet most books would be purchased based on the prices for new and used set in the campus bookstore, now those prices can be compared to new and used on helpful sites like Amazon.

This can lead to large savings, sometimes. I purchased the books I need for my one non-physics course next quarter and I have forgotten what that was like. Instead of a single expensive text the requirement is six sort of expensive books. From the bookstore I found out the books I needed and I then turned around and bought them new and used off of Amazon. This saved me about thirty dollars or so over the used versions of the bookstore.

The possibility of savings are greater for science texts which can be two to three times as expensive in the bookstore for the same book.

Often though the bookstore does have reasonable prices or a slightly higher price for guaranteed quality — the book can be looked at first. The major drawback of buying the internet is the chance that the book will not arrive by the time it is needed.

No matter the method buying books can either bolster confidence in a class or quickly pull it down to preemptive boredom.

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Calm before the Quarter

 

A Camera Phone View of Santa Barbara

A Camera Phone View of Santa Barbara

I moved into my dorm yesterday, classes start on Thursday. Until then I need to reorient myself to Santa Barbara and life in an American college. No more pub quizzes for me.

I bought my textbooks and with a shock remembered the price discrepancies between here and Scotland. For this quarter I have three books (two of them used) for two classes totaling $220. I am taking three classes so I am glad that there is no textbook (yet) for my third class. And one of them is a small book too.

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