Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Don't buy that book!

My medieval literature class for fall doesn't have the robust enrollment I had hoped, probably because of its 8AM MWF time slot. As long as it doesn't kill the class, I'm not too distressed about the time, since I'll be up anyway. The only trick will be to keep the students conscious.

Today at the bookstore I discovered another possible reason for the low enrollment -- instead of ordering the $30 paperback version of Conor McCarthy's Love Sex and Marriage in the Middle Ages, they ordered the hardback version which they were selling for $130 (Amazon has it in hardback for $100). Given that I've probably assigned about $150 worth of books anyway, the extra hit of $130 must have seemed devastating.

So, to any of my students out there, I spoke to the bookstore, and they are returning the hardbacks in favor of the much cheaper paperbacks. As soon as I decide what book to start with I'll post it, so that anyone who can find a cheaper used version online can start looking. Don't buy the hardcover edition -- you can save yourself at least $100 getting paper.

In an aside, while I was snooping around the shelves I saw the books for my colleague's class on medieval European history (Allen Jones). It looked pretty cool, including a couple of books I've never read. If you are interested in the history side too, I'd strongly encourage you to take Dr. Jones's class.


  1. What's up Doc? Sorry I don't have you this fall, but I am sure the class will turnout all right, you are correct about the 8 am thing, espcially on that Friday when everybody is hungover. We'll holla.

  2. Ian Myles Slater11:19 PM

    I'm horrified, but not surprised, that the bookstore would even place the order for the hardcover, and not query whether that was really what was intended.

    They still did better than the University of Texas, where an assigned text kept being returned to the publisher because no one at the store could grasp that a course on modern Japanese media might actually use manga -- they were just comic books, after all, it MUST be a mistake. For this story, see http://utd500.utdallas.edu/~hairston/marc_ac_interview.html

  3. I should note, in defense of the bookstore, that they are going through a transition at the moment. The representative I spoke with told me that their policy is to order the paperback version of any book even if the ISBN the professor has provided is for hardback. I think it was an error that was missed as a result of the transition more than anything else.

  4. Ian Myles Slater12:00 AM

    So they acted on the mirror-image of a sensible real policy -- still bad, but sort of thing I can understand (and probably have done)!

    The downside of the policy may show up someday. A hardcover edition may have apparatus lacking in the paperback. This was the case with Peter Green's translation of "The Argonautika," which I nearly ordered in the paperback (328 pages) instead of hardcover (474 pages), thinking it was a real bargain, until I noticed the discrepancy.