Welcome to Rye Country Day's Economic Blog. Here you will find perspectives by students taking Economics at Rye Country Day School. It is meant to be a forum where students can openly express their ideas and take positions on relevant economic issues. I urge everyone to participate in presenting their own ideas in an open manner so that we can all learn from each other. Regardless of whether you are currently taking Economics, everyone is invited and encouraged to comment on articles and get involved. Feel free to e-mail me, Alex Osborne at alexander_osborne@rcds.rye.ny.us , with comments or suggestions.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Featured Entry - Varsity Books Alternative

The month is August and we have just spent the last three months relaxing (hopefully) and enjoying the summer. However, the dreaded RCDS envelope arrives mid-August to remind us that summer's almost gone. We are given the list of classes that we will be taking and also given detailed instructions on how to access Varsity Books and order books that we need for each class. Due to us still being in "summer-mode" it is almost impossible to resist Varsity Books appealing and simple website that fogs the reality that we are paying inflated prices for textbooks. A simple Googleing of the names of the textbooks you need will lead you to finding the same textbooks, brand new, for a LOT cheaper. Now the question is does RCDS make a profit with their "monopoly" with Varsity Books? I would be inclined to say yes, as students do not even receive a list of the books they need but rather they must log on to Varsity Books just to know exactly what books they need. Most likely, even if you were planning on Googleing the textbooks and finding the cheapest prices, after visiting Varsity Books it is almost impossible to resist clicking "Add to Cart" and taking out your parents credit card. Due to the fact that the list of books each student needs is only available through Varsity Books, RCDS creates an image that Varsity Books is the only way to order books. This is absolutely not true and I have been ordering books through various sources each year (Amazon as well as Half.com- an affiliate of EBay). Should RCDS change its policy and send a list of books needed for each class in the mail with the class list, people would certainly look at other options of buying books. I urge everyone to take a look at other sources besides Varsity Books when it comes time to order new books for next year or next semester and show your parents how economics helped you save money on your textbooks.

-Alex Osborne


philip said...

As a proud person who has been resisting varsity books since its evil monopoly was introduced (or maybe a year after), I totally agree with the positions put forward in this response. Its absolutely absurd to be spending hundreds of dollars on books that we will, on the whole, be using once. We, the children of the internet, must use the tools avaliable to us and look for places where we can find these books for cheaper prices, either new, used, or, in many cases, certified pre-owned. Rye Country Day does its students a disservice by not suggesting that books can be purchased in other places. Varsity books should still run for those who wish to spend the marked-up price for their school books, but informed consumers within the student body must resist it and find alternative ways of buying their school books.

Ivan K. said...

I totally agree with this as well. I came to Rye as a sophomore, but from the very moment I recieved my book list, I refused to pay the Varsity price, and up to this moment, I still get my books from other sources. Other websites on the internet have substantially cheaper prices for new books. Buying used books is even an even cheaper alternative. The used books are not much different from the new ones, but the cost is significantly less, allowing you to save a lot of money on pretty much the same item. Varsity books, on the other hand, charges extra money for the same books, have more expensive shipping charges, and charge tax, which a lot of websites do not. However, I don't think Rye Country Day does a disservice to the students because the ISBN numbers are provided on varsity, and students should just be smart consumers and at least compare prices at another site before going ahead and buying from varsity.

Kunal said...

Ivan, you may be interested to know that when I recently searched on VarsityBooks for the ISBN for the AP Microeconomics book, the number was nowhere to be found. Perhaps VarsityBooks has gotten smart and decided to take ISBNs off their website so as to make it more difficult for savvy consumers to simply search an ISBN that they found on VarsityBooks and then use it to purchase books elsewhere.

Ivan K. said...

In fact, I have noticed this. Only yesterday, when I went to find out which book I needed to order for the second semester of my Spanish class, I only had the information from the title, the author, and the picture on the cover. I does appear that Varsity has removed ISBN's from their website, which I must admit, makes it much more difficult to find the right books on different websites, especially since many books come in many different editions.

Andrew said...

I too am a victim of “summer-mode” where I am simply too lazy or even apathetic over the concept of paying way more than I need to for school books. Although this will not affect me next year, I still care about the many wasted dollars to an evil corporation that is very easy to overcome if the mind is willing. I totally agree that the main reason is that a booklist is not given by the school, but rather online where the books can be bought right away. However, just like the Moodle website for the senior Interdisc (ID) class, I find that this website has no advantages over simpler means of doing the same thing. If students are simply given a list their books, or even a printed out copy of all possible books and which correspond with which classes (so the school doesn’t have to do any work), they would right away search for the best price to buy them at from the millions of possible websites in the web. With Varsity Books, though, the books are already listed for students, which is a cheap trick on their part. Definitely this partnership (as well as the one with Moodle) should end as soon as possible, because there appear to be no economic benefits on the part of the student, who could easily save hundreds of dollars (not an exaggeration, mind you) by buying from other websites, or even further, save shipping costs by (gasp!) driving to a physical store out in the real, non-virtual world.