Law school and college textbooks are a joke. I swear, the college textbook market is a mafia-run syndicate almost worse than “BigPharm” and Capitol Hill lobbyists. And college professors, like the power-hungry legislators, eat up the handouts like chocolate cake. Okay, so maybe the racket isn’t that bad, and I’m sure there are some professors who’ve actually read the books their requiring, but I’m also pretty confident that those professors number somewhere close to 1.
The truth is, college textbooks are almost worthless. And publishers, because of the mass niche market, raise the costs. There have to be alternative solutions, and Google looks like the first company to really try and tackle the issue.
Google’s trying to enter the college textbooks business by introducing textbook sales into Google Play Books.
This is a very useful idea, and I certainly hope that the project catches on, especially since I think the solution is consumer and publisher-friendly. However, I doubt very many students this fall will be able to take advantage of the new textbooks.
I contacted a local law student to get his books list ($700+), and unfortunately couldn’t find a single book to purchase on Google.
The comforting news though is that if you can find your textbook, Google Books looks like it’s offering those textbooks at competitive prices. For instance, the student’s bookstore offers Legal Ethics in the Practice of Law for $200.50, new. Ouch.
And even though it’s not the same book, Google’s offering Legal Ethics for $69.99.
That’s 1/2 the price of the bookstore’s used book. Judging by my cursory review of both books, the digital edition of Legal Ethics seems to contain more relevant information and some rather informative case studies and examples. Considering the fact that most students will never pick up their books again, that’s a substantial savings.
Unfortunately, most students will never get to take advantage of Google’s prices and the technological revolution since law schools are pushing for these technological advances as quickly as my deceased grandfather.
Certainly, if law schools actually cared about their students’ futures, they’d do more to shrink costs and improve their technological prowess. I’m not hopeful.