what to do with old engineering text books

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lomarica01
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what to do with old engineering text books

Post by lomarica01 »

I have many old text books from the mid 80's when I graduated college. They include physics,calculus, and upper division engineering. I have decided to get rid of them since I am now retired almost three years but don't want to just throw them away. the local junior college library does not want them.
i know they are not worth any $$ maybe just paper recylce?
any advice is appreciated
JEC
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by JEC »

Unfortunately, recycling is probably your best option.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

Google "selling textbooks". Input the isbn numbers. Ones that are worth anything at all, put in a stack. When you get to (usually) $15, get a shipping label, put them in a box and ship them off. Include other books you don't want. I've put in everything from novels from the wife to Haynes manuals. Those they won't take, paper recycling. I throw them in my wood furnace. I have kept calculus books. This stuff hasn't changed in 1,000 years. It's just that professors write new books on the same things and want royalties, so require their students to buy their book.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Cycle »

They are likely of no value, recycle/garbage
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cheese_breath
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by cheese_breath »

I emptied my basement of 'tons' of old books some years ago, and took them all to a used book store. He gave me around $75 for the ones he wanted and permission to throw all the text books into his dumpster.
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lthenderson
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by lthenderson »

Consider sending them to a third world country though it will cost you quite a bit in mailing costs to do so. I send a box of books to a third world asian country about every other year for a flat rate of $60 for a box about 6 cu. ft. in size. They are really appreciative of advanced schooling books like engineering books.
adamthesmythe
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by adamthesmythe »

When I was working I bought some classic textbooks/ technical books from a used bookstore.

When I (semi-) retired I severely pruned my books but I still have a couple of dozen for reference.

When doing the pruning- it's interesting that I kept older textbooks instead of newer ones on similar subjects. As suggested, recent ones have little new material that remains relevant and more fluff than the older ones.

My experience is in applied physics- like fields. Books in my field remain useful for a considerable time. Last time I checked Maxwell's equations hadn't changed. Now computer books- ready for the dumpster in a couple years.

It would be nice to give younger practitioners and/ or grad students a chance to look through your books before discarding them. I acquired several that way.
dcabler
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by dcabler »

My math books went first, probably about 10 years after I graduated in the mid 1980's. I have seen the same books at used bookstores (like Half Priced Books here in TX). But prepared to get offers from places like that on the order of $0.25 - $1.00 per book.

I got rid of most of the engineering books that were associated with classes I was forced to take, but which had no bearing on my actual field of employment. Classes like thermodynamics, statics, dynamics, machines, and power systems (I'm an electrical engineer in the semiconductor industry). And I did that as soon as the class was over. :D

Regarding my electrical engineering books which are related to my field of employment, I kept them, but honestly I've been in management for almost 15 years and never look at them. Will probably also do a donation at some point as there are new editions of all of the books at this point. Few people are going to want what is considered out-dated. Our local Goodwill takes them but no idea what happens after that.

Cheers
runner3081
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by runner3081 »

We always donate to the local library.

People will buy them eventually at a book sale.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

dcabler wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:24 pm
I got rid of most of the engineering books that were associated with classes I was forced to take, but which had no bearing on my actual field of employment. Classes like thermodynamics, statics, dynamics, machines, and power systems (I'm an electrical engineer in the semiconductor industry). And I did that as soon as the class was over. :D
Ouch....right to my heart. I do thermal transfer calculations all the time (it's the most mis-applied topic for most of my engineer customers). Power systems.....Owch!!! I design power supplies. Let me pull those arrows out of my chest. I'm also an EE and work for a semiconductor company.

Now....the Chemistry and English books......I was happy to watch them flame up and die an agonizing death!
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by mighty72 »

Try your local library or eBay
dcabler
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by dcabler »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:43 pm
dcabler wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:24 pm
I got rid of most of the engineering books that were associated with classes I was forced to take, but which had no bearing on my actual field of employment. Classes like thermodynamics, statics, dynamics, machines, and power systems (I'm an electrical engineer in the semiconductor industry). And I did that as soon as the class was over. :D
Ouch....right to my heart. I do thermal transfer calculations all the time (it's the most mis-applied topic for most of my engineer customers). Power systems.....Owch!!! I design power supplies. Let me pull those arrows out of my chest. I'm also an EE and work for a semiconductor company.

Now....the Chemistry and English books......I was happy to watch them flame up and die an agonizing death!
Yep, it seems we were in school back in the day when the term "Engineer" meant you could build bridges. Didn't matter if you were electrical, mechanical, aerospace, whatever - you must all take the same engineering classes. A lot of that was "teaching to the test" meaning preparing everybody to eventually get a P.E. license. Went back to my old school not too long ago - that thinking seems to have finally evaporated. Would have loved to have been able to have taken more EE classes, instead of those classes.

When was the last you thought in terms of "per-unit" (p.u.) for power systems? For me, it was the day of the final.
Yeah, and there was always one bozo in the machines lab who did "runaway motor" sending everybody scrambling for the exit before it blew! I always liked saying "wound rotor motor".

Ah, memories....
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greg24
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by greg24 »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:58 pmI have kept calculus books. This stuff hasn't changed in 1,000 years.
You may want to re-read those books. :sharebeer
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by AerialWombat »

Definitely look up on Amazon or another textbook sales/rental site as to whether they have value. There are a surprising number of really old textbooks in some scientific fields that are still the best ever written on that particular subject, and are not outdated simply because there haven't been any advances in those basic science/engineering arenas in decades. Many online colleges in particular use these older, well known/respected textbooks for a particular subject.

In my old science discipline (which I long ago abandoned), there are five specific books that basically everybody in the field, around the world, has and still uses. The most recent one was revised in 1989, I believe. The decay energy of whichamacallit-985 is simply the same today as when it was discovered in 1914. :beer

So yeah, some may still have value in the online resale market. Check the ISBN's.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Mr. Rumples »

As mentioned above, try your local library. Many local libraries have annual book sales. Where I have lived, there are "friends of the library" clubs that organize these annual events. Googling "friends of the library" with various cities yielded results.

Also, when we moved across country and disposed of most of our library, the local senior center took everything for their library; they came to the house and did all the work.
financeperchance
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by financeperchance »

Please don't destroy them. Donate them.

Charlie Munger made the statement, "A problem thoroughly understood is half solved," and when I went to track down where he learned that from, the answer was from an engineering textbook from 100 years ago. So you never know what knowledge those books contain.
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rterickson
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by rterickson »

If you're a power guy, the "classics" never go out of style. Good examples @ https://www.eng-tips.com/faqs.cfm?fid=1287
PVW
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by PVW »

lomarica01 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:47 pm I have many old text books from the mid 80's when I graduated college. They include physics,calculus, and upper division engineering. I have decided to get rid of them since I am now retired almost three years but don't want to just throw them away. the local junior college library does not want them.
i know they are not worth any $$ maybe just paper recylce?
any advice is appreciated
Count yourself lucky. I have a trove of technical books from the 50s and 60s that I got from my graduate advisor when he retired. The theory hasn't changed, but nobody looks up integral tables anymore. What am I going to do with these? I'd feel guilty about trashing a gift.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by RickBoglehead »

Many places that take donations won't take books from 30+ years ago. They are totally obsolete, and have no value, and it costs money for them to dispose of them, even in a dumpster.

As suggested lookup values online.

Our son finished his engineering degree (undergrad and masters) a few years back. He had no physical textbooks, all were digital.
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NotWhoYouThink
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by NotWhoYouThink »

runner3081 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:38 pm We always donate to the local library.

People will buy them eventually at a book sale.
No they won't, but the library will throw out the books and you don't have to watch.

Your tax dollars at work.
shess
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by shess »

lomarica01 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:47 pm I have many old text books from the mid 80's when I graduated college. They include physics,calculus, and upper division engineering. I have decided to get rid of them since I am now retired almost three years but don't want to just throw them away. the local junior college library does not want them.
i know they are not worth any $$ maybe just paper recylce?
any advice is appreciated
Unfortunately, the textbook-industrial complex doesn't allow older books to be used. I'm not even being snarky - an older Calculus textbook would be a great resource for someone teaching themselves Calculus, but if you want to take a Calculus class, you 100% need to purchase the book the class uses. As a result, there are millions of unused Calculus books out there. If you wanted to teach yourself Calculus, you should 100% use Khan Academy or other online system, or use one of the free online texts. I would have treasured a used Calc or Physics textbook when I was a youngling back in the 80's, but today's world is just not the same.

I only resell old technical books which value above $5 or so online. Usually, you'll feed a box of ISBN numbers in, and get a bunch which are selling for basically the shipping cost, and there will be one item which lists for $45 or something. Sell that one, recycle the rest.

I know, it's hard. I kept some just because I couldn't bear tossing them. Maybe I should revisit that crate...
Kagord
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Kagord »

Most of my kids textbooks are online with stupid access codes, I can't stand it. I have to have a book flipped open, Staedtler tri rule, engineering graph paper, my trusty HP 15C, and a heavy 0.7 mechanical pencil. That was high tech for you slide rulers.

So yeah, just dump the books if you haven't cracked them in a few decades.
123
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by 123 »

Recycle them if possible other than that they go to landfill. Old textbooks usually have little value. Most of the people that buy textbooks new bought them because they took a class, not necessarily because they thought the material was presented in an innovative way. I made an effort to get a replacement copy of an old text I had 10 years earlier that I had lost, I found it on ebay, perfect condition, for $10. I glanced at it when it arrived, put it on a shelf and haven't looked at it since.

Once in awhile I'll look at an old textbook and marvel at how clear it made a lot of concepts that weren't at all clear to be the first time I read it. I'll decide that I need to make the time to study it some more, but I never do.
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runner3081
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by runner3081 »

NotWhoYouThink wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:52 pm
runner3081 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:38 pm We always donate to the local library.

People will buy them eventually at a book sale.
No they won't, but the library will throw out the books and you don't have to watch.

Your tax dollars at work.
Our libraries do annual sales where you get a whole bag for $1. They pretty much sell everything.
JBTX
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by JBTX »

I had a friend who would buy and sell old text books like that on eBay. Surprisingly there may be some demand for them.
Orange44
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Orange44 »

I remember this nice old lady had her husband's old text books on a shelf. She said for me to pick one for payment for mowing the lawn. The book was written in the 1920's. It was priceless to me at that point and I still have it. I wanted the money but that book had his notes in it. Made me realize I had a lot to learn. I guess that was what she wanted me to learn.. I understood two sentences in the whole book.

Can you save some for your memories and the rest for recycling?

:sharebeer
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Bogle7
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Bogle7 »

Trash
That can join mine from the 60s
Valuethinker
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Valuethinker »

lomarica01 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:47 pm I have many old text books from the mid 80's when I graduated college. They include physics,calculus, and upper division engineering. I have decided to get rid of them since I am now retired almost three years but don't want to just throw them away. the local junior college library does not want them.
i know they are not worth any $$ maybe just paper recylce?
any advice is appreciated
1. check Ebay etc.

2. See if there are any "classics" like Spivak - Calculus. They might have value to a Third World library where students do not have the same access to internet resources & modern textbooks. I am thinking Bangladesh, say.

I am thinking more the basic sort of "Principles of Thermodynamics" etc.

3. see if there are any charities that would accept/ ship books to Third World/ Developing Countries. Shipping costs may make the economics prohibitive but it's worth at least checking

4. recycle if you can
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Valuethinker »

PVW wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:42 pm
lomarica01 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:47 pm I have many old text books from the mid 80's when I graduated college. They include physics,calculus, and upper division engineering. I have decided to get rid of them since I am now retired almost three years but don't want to just throw them away. the local junior college library does not want them.
i know they are not worth any $$ maybe just paper recylce?
any advice is appreciated
Count yourself lucky. I have a trove of technical books from the 50s and 60s that I got from my graduate advisor when he retired. The theory hasn't changed, but nobody looks up integral tables anymore. What am I going to do with these? I'd feel guilty about trashing a gift.
Find one or two and keep them. You will treasure them when he is gone.

The rest - recycle.

It's not a gift if it comes with conditions attached. Whenever I give something I always try to say to the recipient "when you have finished with this, please pass it on to the right hands".
arf1410
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by arf1410 »

Unfortunately recycling may not be an option because many recyclers will not take hard cover books, only soft cover....
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Elric
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Elric »

lomarica01 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:47 pm I have many old text books from the mid 80's when I graduated college. They include physics,calculus, and upper division engineering. I have decided to get rid of them since I am now retired almost three years but don't want to just throw them away. the local junior college library does not want them.
i know they are not worth any $$ maybe just paper recylce?
any advice is appreciated
I found that several of my graduate physics text still had value and could be sold (from early 80's, sold maybe 10 years ago). The volume of sales is low, and there aren't many new editions or new texts. However undergraduate texts, especially lower level ones, are updated ever few years and likely have little value.

I forget which one I used, but there are several sites online that will check across multiple book-buyers for you, such as https://bookscouter.com/ and https://www.bookfinder.com/buyback/

Check on recycling. My understanding is that because of the bindings, books often aren't recyclable.
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tarmangani
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by tarmangani »

Your library doesn't want your old textbooks. They may take them to be polite but they will just recycle/discard them because very few people bother purchasing textbooks.

<-library director who deals with this all of the time
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lomarica01
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by lomarica01 »

OP here my library said they will take them so that is good. even if they sell them for $0.25 each or toss them as least I provided an opportunity for additional use.
Funny I almost kept a couple of my "favorirte" books but if I have not looked at them in 30 years I never will. The one favorite was Engineering Economics but even that is so obsolete with all the resources that are now online

one big benefit I have so much more cabinet space in my office

thanks for the input
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by whodidntante »

To the pups.

Whenever possible I would identify textbooks that could be purchased in Asia months in advance, and import them for 10% of the price. This saved a couple grand at least. Then I would deposit the book in the nearest recycling bin when I walked out of the final exam, or give it to another student if the book wasn't all torn up. The quality of those books was terrible, but the content was the same.
arf1410
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by arf1410 »

whodidntante wrote: Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:25 pm To the pups.

Whenever possible I would identify textbooks that could be purchased in Asia months in advance, and import them for 10% of the price. This saved a couple grand at least. Then I would deposit the book in the nearest recycling bin when I walked out of the final exam, or give it to another student if the book wasn't all torn up. The quality of those books was terrible, but the content was the same.
Though well past college age, there was an engineering text book I wanted, but didnt want to pay the $200. new price. I found a copy on Amazon which I thought was a used copy of an old edition, for $22. When it came, it was new, current edition, but on the front cover it stated " licensed for sale only in India, Pakistan, Nepal, etc ". Paper might be slightly lower quality but fine for my needs.
rj342
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by rj342 »

Kagord wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 4:27 pm Most of my kids textbooks are online with stupid access codes, I can't stand it. I have to have a book flipped open, Staedtler tri rule, engineering graph paper, my trusty HP 15C, and a heavy 0.7 mechanical pencil. That was high tech for you slide rulers.

So yeah, just dump the books if you haven't cracked them in a few decades.
Heh. My HP 15C is on my work desk in front of me right now. Don't do any engineering calculations any more (programmer now), but its a classic and yes a nostalgia piece. Occasionally a conversation piece.
Only sign of wear is the little HP 15C medallion/badge thingie at upper right became unglued at some point and was lost.
You can still get some compatible batteries, have to be careful though.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by rj342 »

whodidntante wrote: Wed Jan 15, 2020 1:25 pm To the pups.

Whenever possible I would identify textbooks that could be purchased in Asia months in advance, and import them for 10% of the price. This saved a couple grand at least. Then I would deposit the book in the nearest recycling bin when I walked out of the final exam, or give it to another student if the book wasn't all torn up. The quality of those books was terrible, but the content was the same.
In the 80s I had a friend from Singapore in engineering with me. Even back then they had a market for counterfeit textbooks.
AnonLady
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by AnonLady »

I'll take them!!!! They sound like cool books.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Bnjneer »

I had a nice collection of old engineering text books by famous engineers and educators. When I retired, we moved, and my wife said they weren't going with us. So, I gave them to some of my younger co-workers, and placed others in company's library. I was hoping someone else would appreciate some of the history of civil/structural engineering and see how the early engineers designed. They were really neat books.

Kept my HP41CX and HP41 CV. They must be over 30 years old and still work perfectly!
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Pigeon »

tarmangani wrote: Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:58 am Your library doesn't want your old textbooks. They may take them to be polite but they will just recycle/discard them because very few people bother purchasing textbooks.

<-library director who deals with this all of the time
Seconded by this academic library collections administrator. Gift books are largely a headache that we only take because it fosters goodwill among people who might be donors. Very little gets added to the collection and it's increasingly difficult to get rid of the rest. We would absolutely discard old textbooks, so you would just be making your problem our problem.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by SmileyFace »

runner3081 wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:38 pm We always donate to the local library.

People will buy them eventually at a book sale.
Make sure your local library accepts them first - mine does not (BIG sign at donations drop off "please don't leave any textbooks nor magazines"). Libraries and othe book donation places get innundated with old textbooks that no one wants.

Recycling is the best bet for textbooks that old - I know Calculus, etc haven't really changed since the 80's - but no one wants textbooks that old.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by fru-gal »

The people advocating recycling should know that hardcover books are not acceptable in many places and contaminate a load of actually recyclable items. Call your recycling program first.

I kept a few books of sentimental value, the rest go in the trash. I suppose I could have scissored out the pages and recycled those. I've never seen textbooks in my library's used books for sale area.
Figuring_it_out
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Figuring_it_out »

Pinch your nose, close your eyes and put them out on the curb.

text books are a money making racket. College is about selling your books that will be worthless at the end of the semester. Every year a "new" book comes out on material that hasn't changed in 100 years.

Ebooks are now the thing to save cost, at least the trees don't have to die in the process of them making money.

Modern engineering students probably could not work the problems in that book the same way you did in the 80s anyway. Thats beck when you had to use your head. Now computers do all of the crunch work.
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jabberwockOG
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by jabberwockOG »

Old paper based text books are basically worthless at this point primarily due to form factor rather than content.

Our youngest graduated (3.96 gpa so he did study :) in 2019 from a top 10 engineering school. Over 4 years he purchased shockingly few paper textbooks - maybe 5-6 total? Based on his experience the vast majority of his learning materials were downloadable/internet based at very little to no cost.

When I went to school (cowboy and Indian days) I purchased more books in a semester than he did over 4 years.
Last edited by jabberwockOG on Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by koozie »

I used them for target practice. It’s easy to clean up so you don’t leave a mess, and it was way more fun than doing differential equations.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by gd »

10 years ago I sold maybe two 70's era probability and statistics texts for a surprising amount, like between $20 and $80, on (don't recall) ebay, amazon or alibris. Other similar books went in the trash, never figured out why some were valued. My area has book donation bins all over, I check with a local used book store then take them to the bins. Agree, they do NOT go in household paper recycling.

I think the shelf life of WROX software books was about 6 months. I think the product line was designed by marketing psychologists.

I've wasted a lot of time and energy mistaking used book ads for indications of value.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

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Barefoot
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Barefoot »

dcabler wrote: Tue Jan 14, 2020 2:24 pm And I did that as soon as the class was over. :D
Yup, sold mine for beer money.
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

My favorite is "A Course of Modern Analysis" by Whittaker and Watson, the fourth edition, 1927. The first edition was published in 1902. It is next to me now as I am writing this post. Some books are my living story. Not history, I am not a prince. Many math and physics books by big names are timeless, but most engineering books become obsolete quick.
ohai
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by ohai »

I'd suggest tossing them out. My dad has engineering textbooks from like 1970 that have been sitting on the book case for 50 years. It would be nicer to have that space to put useful things.
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