Thursday, February 5, 2009

Book Buyers the Latest Sign of Hard Economic Times

As a professor sometimes textbook companies send me preview copies of their textbook without me even requesting them. Their hope is that I assign the textbook to my class so 70 students starting buying their book. I’m pretty happy with my textbooks, so I put the preview copies in a corner of the bookshelf. Then every once in a while a textbook buyer comes by and the buyer gives me cash for the book. He (they are mostly older men) then sells that book to a used textbook seller or maybe even sells it online.

Textbook buyer is generally a low skilled job. The company gives you a scanner (or maybe you have to buy not sure), then you scan the book and walk around professor offices asking who has books for sale.

Is it a sign of bad economic times, that I have seen more textbook sellers these last few weeks? I would guess so. As the stock market falls the semi-retired guys come around a lot more, because they need the money even more. Or do furloughed professors sell more textbooks during economic downturns increase the profit for walking door to door?

Any other professors notice this?

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1 comment:

Britt said...

They're not supposed to come into our campus buildings except to keep a specific appointment that they have made with a faculty member (yay for private colleges with aggressive enforcement of trespassing laws), so I don't see them often, but I did see one last week. (One datapoint; very weak!)

Luckily a few of our alums arrange to send textbooks to Africa and other places that need them—so while I did pocket a cool $400 one time when a very lucky fellow came by while I was packing up my Ithaca College office for the move here, I haven't given much custom to the textbook-grubbers for good or for ill.