Textbooks are expensive [Captain Obvious]

With the spring semester starting up, a timely report on textbook pricing appeared on Digg last week.

From the Business Shrink:

The DOE study states that full-time students at four-year public colleges spend an average of $893 a year on textbooks and about $10 less a year for two-year students. The most interesting figure from this study is that since 1986, the textbook prices have risen almost 186 percent, or 6 percent a year. When you look at other product prices in the market they all generally rose by about 3 percent. Some public and private universities publish their own figures of college textbook costs for a student per year and they range from $400 – $1,300.

It’s pretty easy to breeze past these figures when you’re amidst paying for these books, but these staggering numbers reveal just how much the book publishing industry, working with the Universities, are ripping off students hand-over-fist on these costs.

I try to bypass the campus bookstore if at all possible.  I’m too much of a bum to get in there early to get any quality used books, leaving you having to pay the inflated retail price for the new book.  Taking my search on-line, I’ve had a lot of success with BigWords.com, which functions as a textbook search engine.  However, now you’re in the race against the clock, hoping to receive the textbook before you actually need it. I’ve been burned by this before.

Being a small-government conservative, I like to avoid using legislation to fix problems, but this may be a case where this may be necessary.  I would love a "Student’s Textbook Bill of Rights" be drafted either on the federal or state level.  This bill, among other things would include the following provisions:

  • Universities would be required to publish required course materials on-line and make them available to students at the time of registration.  Students deserve the right to have the time look for a reasonable price without having to go to the school’s bookstore.
  • Universities would be required to purchase and stock 10% of the course’s enrollment that would be available in the school’s library.
  • Textbooks have to be selected on a department-wide level (most are, but there are a few professors who want to force you to buy that extra book). By default Universities are limited to changing out text books once every two years.  This would ensure that a majority of students would have a reasonable experience re-selling or buying used books.  There could be some exception process in the cases of certain subjects/courses.

What kind of provisions do you feel need to be in the Textbook BoR?

Gravedigger – You’re kidding Willie, right?

In my email today I got an email from DMB Warehouse telling me to go check out Willie Nelson’s video of his cover of Dave Matthews song “Gravedigger”. I went to go checked it out:

Willie, you’re kidding, right?  Please tell me you’re going into Weird Al parody videos or something ,because I can’t believe that you took this seriously.  Seriously, it sounds like you badly spliced this song up and tried to put it back together after picking it up off the cutting room floor.  I realize that you were a legend in your own time, but this is not the way to come back..  Wow, if Dave were dead, he’d be spinning in his grave.

Random gaming goodness, Romey’s consoles

After posting about my Vista upgrade experience, it seems fitting to share some thoughts on the catalyst of the Vista upgrade: the Xbox 360.  I got myself a little Christmas present this year, finally breaking down and buying the Xbox, bringing my gaming system count up to 3 consoles: the Playstation 2, the Wii and now the Xbox 360.

This must be prefaced with the fact that I’m not a big-time gamer.  My time spent gaming tends to come in waves, where I may kill a whole weekend playing games, then won’t touch any games for weeks at a time.  This is regardless of any of the gaming systems, although I have to say that the novelty of the Xbox 360 hasn’t worn out and I’ve been playing it for about an hour each evening since I brought it home.

While owning three consoles does seem a bit excessive, each one basically serves it’s own purpose:

Nintendo Wii:  This is definitely the most popular console for my friends and family, basically because it transcended the gaming experience for them.  My sisters and Bethany, who never have historically been big fans of video games, love playing games on the Wii.   I think this is because the gaming experience on the Wii is so different, that it eliminates the old stereotypes that are brought by video games (all you do is mash buttons, the games are so boring, etc…).  The Wii also travels well, and has taken various trips to many parties, family & friend’s and even on my trips to New York (and now Atlanta).  However given the Wii’s short supply, I pray each time I disconnect it from my living room TV and put it in the bag. Favorite Games: Super Mario Galaxy (INCREDIBLE!), Mario Party 8 and Wii Sports.

Xbox 360: Has definitely found it’s niche in my home: as my solo & online gaming system.  While new, I don’t foresee the Xbox ever drawing diverse interest from the same groups attracted to the Wii, and the games aren’t as entertaining for non-gamers to watch.  This is button-mashing, traditional game-playing.   Basically this is my gaming system that I’ll play by myself (or on-line).  However, the hand-down appeal that Xbox has is the graphics and HD experience.  I fell in love with the 360 HD experience the same way I fell in love with football in HD.  The Xbox won’t travel, mainly due to it’s size, but also partly to the fact that I don’t want to jinx my HD experience with a standard-def TV. I do have an Xbox Live Gold membership (user RomeyInFC) and I’ve really enjoyed the online experience.  Favorite Games: Madden 2008, Halo 3, Assassin’s Creed (granted I’ve only owned the Xbox for 2 weeks)

Playstation 2: The only reason this console isn’t in a closet collecting dust is because of Guitar Hero.  When I bought Guitar Hero I did not have the Xbox yet, and there wasn’t a Wii version available, so I dusted off the PS2 solely for that reason.   I own about 15 PS2 games, and I’ve thought about bringing out Grand Theft Auto for old time’s sake, but PS2 is simply the “Guitar Hero machine”.  If I could I would trade away my PS2 with Guitar Hero 2 (and guitar) along with a few games for the Xbox Guitar Hero. Favorite Games: Guitar Hero 2, Grant Theft Auto (both Vice City and San Andreas)

If I were forced to pick a gaming system, I would have to say that it’s the Wii, but let me play some more 360 for another month and see where things stack up.

Cruising in the ATL

TheATL 

Just a quick note that I’ll be hitting the road this week, traveling to Atlanta for work.  This was a bit of a last-minute trip, but I’m on my way – ready or not.

Hopefully I’ll have some interesting stories to share.  Strangely enough, business trips usually leave me with more time on my hands (at least in the evenings) so I’m hoping hit the blog while I’m on the road.  Then again I may be swamped with work and won’t want to look at a computer by the end of the day.  Who knows…