Thursday, June 25, 2009

And you wonder why...

College textbooks cost so much.
Elsevier officials said Monday that it was a mistake for the publishing giant's marketing division to offer $25 Amazon gift cards to anyone who would give a new textbook five stars in a review posted on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. While those popular Web sites' customer reviews have long been known to be something less than scientific, and prone to manipulation if an author has friends write on behalf of a new work, the idea that a major academic publisher would attempt to pay for good reviews angered some professors who received the e-mail pitch.

Here's what the e-mail -- sent to contributors to the textbook -- said:

"Congratulations and thank you for your contribution to Clinical Psychology. Now that the book is published, we need your help to get some 5 star reviews posted to both Amazon and Barnes & Noble to help support and promote it. As you know, these online reviews are extremely persuasive when customers are considering a purchase. For your time, we would like to compensate you with a copy of the book under review as well as a $25 Amazon gift card. If you have colleagues or students who would be willing to post positive reviews, please feel free to forward this e-mail to them to participate. We share the common goal of wanting Clinical Psychology to sell and succeed. The tactics defined above have proven to dramatically increase exposure and boost sales. I hope we can work together to make a strong and profitable impact through our online bookselling channels." [More]
Given the stakes in the market, it is hardly surprising that easily posted Amazon reviews are being solicited from early buyers and academics.  It's similar to book-jacket blurbs: you scratch my back...

I've posted a few reviews on Amazon, some good, some not-so-good, but am still waiting for my gift card.  I guess I need to the big leagues of really expensive tomes.

 If you have a new college student matriculating this fall, brace yourself for some truly astonishing textbook prices.  In fact, the lucrative textbook market is one prime place e-book technology could make a whopping difference.
Harris has traded in some of her textbooks and paperbacks for something much lighter — her 10.2-ounce Kindle, an electronic reader than can store about 200 books downloaded for a fee from
It’s one way Harris said she and other teachers in the Las Virgenes Unified School District are embracing what students already know: Technology can make learning fun and accessible.
“I read books to students from this,” Harris said as she gave a short demonstration. “It makes books more accessible for me, and it shows students that I also understand technology. This is where we are headed, whether we like it or not.”
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agrees. On Monday, he visited Calabasas High amid much fanfare to introduce the nation’s first Free Digital Textbook Initiative, which he said could save schools across the state millions of dollars per year. [More]
Plus you wouldn't have to move those leaden boxes seventeen times to your daughter's ever changing new apartment/dorm room.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah with kids in college, I know how high textbooks are. It is another case of mergers and aquisitions and companies getting too big and powerful. A lot of publishers have been consolidated and many university press operations were closed or bought out. Some call it market rationalization. I call it too much market power. Electronic publishing does hold a sword over the book publishers head however. The publishers have not succeeded in cornering that market. At least it keeps books from being too outrageous in price so we see $300 books instead of $600 ones.