what to do with old engineering text books

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MathIsMyWayr
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

rj342 wrote: Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:42 pm
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.
There used to be Asian editions, not counterfeits, but licensed, published in Japan. Those days are long gone.
Rain
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Rain »

user5027 wrote: Thu Jan 16, 2020 9:59 am I've used a book drop ...
https://www.betterworldbooks.com/go/donate
+1 Better World Books. You can see if they have a drop box near you at the link user5027 shared (https://www.betterworldbooks.com/go/donate).

From the Wikipedia article: "As of 2019, Better World Books handles about 30 million incoming books per year, of which 10 gets sold and 10 donated to partners."

From their website: "Better World Books is a certified B-Corporation and a for-profit global e-retailer that collects and sells new and used books online matching each purchase with a book donation, Book-for-Book™. Each sale generates funds for literacy and education initiatives in the UK, US, and around the world. Since its launch in 2003, Better World Books has raised more than $27 million for libraries and literacy, donated over 26 million books, and reused or recycled over 300 million books."
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F150HD
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by F150HD »

I have a huge box of college books I've been moving around for 20 years, like most, its the heaviest box when I have moved. Though not retired, I am at the point of pitching them (or burning in a firepit). With so much found online now, its hard to justify keeping them around? :confused They're not hurting anything but the box sure is heavy.
rj342
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by rj342 »

MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 2:00 am
rj342 wrote: Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:42 pm
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.
There used to be Asian editions, not counterfeits, but licensed, published in Japan. Those days are long gone.
Professional print shops would do spiral bound high quality monochrome copy jobs, like a business might do for proposals. No pretense they were the real thing.
Wilderness Librarian
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Wilderness Librarian »

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
Not only that. Most academic libraries have collection policies written or unwritten against systematic acquisition of textbooks. They want to spend their time and money on other material. Granted a few textbooks are on the shelves for a variety of reasons.

I would often go into our processing area when there were numerous book trucks of donated materials mainly from professors clearing out their offices. Only the choice items went into the library's collection or a book sale. Some were traded off to other libraries for the cost of postage but the vast majority were discarded. We had a recycle dumpster in the loading dock area. Even though property stamps were blacked out sometimes people would dumpster dive and return discarded materials. So, often the spine of the book was broken to discourage this activity. Yes I have done this myself. I have even taken some material home and discarded them there so it wouldn't be so obvious.

Moral of the story: Be very judicious about what you donate to libraries.
Valuethinker
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Valuethinker »

MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 2:00 am
rj342 wrote: Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:42 pm
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.
There used to be Asian editions, not counterfeits, but licensed, published in Japan. Those days are long gone.
There still are overseas editions, published in India. They are not illegal, AFAIK, however they are not supposed to be available to students in developed countries. Of course they are (I have a couple).

When you get a $200 textbook knocked down to $40. The price of university textbooks seems to have risen far, far faster than inflation since the early 1980s. Say what were $40 textbooks then would be $90 textbooks now? But the actual price is $225?
Valuethinker
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Valuethinker »

Wilderness Librarian wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:58 pm
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
Not only that. Most academic libraries have collection policies written or unwritten against systematic acquisition of textbooks. They want to spend their time and money on other material. Granted a few textbooks are on the shelves for a variety of reasons.
Academic journals are basically controlled by a small handful of publishers. They receive the content for free from academics who need publications, and reviewed for free (by other academics). If you look at Reed Elsevier it is a quite profitable business.

The price of journals has risen faster than inflation AFAIK. To the point where it has become the major cost item for university libraries, I believe?

Student pressure is more about study space and online access, I think?

Amazon is great because you can find obscure old books and out of print textbooks - if your field is not scientific their age is often not a problem. It's bad because it regularises pricing and the algorithms sometimes act to chase up the price not down- if one copy is available at $200 you often find so are all the other copies.
Valuethinker
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Valuethinker »

rj342 wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:17 pm
MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 2:00 am
rj342 wrote: Wed Jan 15, 2020 2:42 pm
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.
There used to be Asian editions, not counterfeits, but licensed, published in Japan. Those days are long gone.
Professional print shops would do spiral bound high quality monochrome copy jobs, like a business might do for proposals. No pretense they were the real thing.
On a university course, now, it appears that this is more or less what happens.

The course manual is a series of readings, spiral bound. This is what I observe in university textbook stores.

Getting permission for reprint from the various publishers is a major exercise.
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augryphon
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by augryphon »

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
Another mid 80s engineer here. I did my best not to read mine then, I’m certainly not going to read them now!
Pigeon
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Pigeon »

Valuethinker wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 4:13 am
Wilderness Librarian wrote: Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:58 pm
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
Not only that. Most academic libraries have collection policies written or unwritten against systematic acquisition of textbooks. They want to spend their time and money on other material. Granted a few textbooks are on the shelves for a variety of reasons.
Academic journals are basically controlled by a small handful of publishers. They receive the content for free from academics who need publications, and reviewed for free (by other academics). If you look at Reed Elsevier it is a quite profitable business.

The price of journals has risen faster than inflation AFAIK. To the point where it has become the major cost item for university libraries, I believe?

Student pressure is more about study space and online access, I think?

Amazon is great because you can find obscure old books and out of print textbooks - if your field is not scientific their age is often not a problem. It's bad because it regularises pricing and the algorithms sometimes act to chase up the price not down- if one copy is available at $200 you often find so are all the other copies.
This is true about academic journal publishers.

For textbooks, there is another factor that comes into play, especially in the sciences and social sciences. Many faculty will require students to purchase textbooks with an access code. You can buy the code alone, but it is priced as essentially costing the same as if you get it bundled with the textbook. This code is typically only good for one semester or sometimes for one year, at which point it expires and needs to be repurchased. The code gives access to a platform with quizzes, homework and additional content. Use of this type of platform makes the professor's life easier, but it means that students can't buy used textbooks (well, they can, but then they have to buy the code for just about the same price as buying new). It is such a racket, but it is the way the textbook publishers have gutted the used textbook market. It totally sucks that the faculty go along with this stuff.

Student pressure is a funny thing. Many students greatly prefer reading print textbooks to online. They may like having the online as a backup so they don't have to haul a textbook to class, but they want the print too.
rich126
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by rich126 »

The sad truth is that it is much easier to find information online than it is to find it in a text book. For studying purposes I still prefer a real book and write or type notes from it, which helps me remember the information.

I've been slowly going through my house to downsize stuff and have been getting rid of books (more slowly than I should). I'm trying to keep only those that contain information much harder to track down on the Internet, or possibly dated information that should could be useful in a rare situation. (Probably just a lame justification to keep a few books.)
shess
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by shess »

Pigeon wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 9:56 am For textbooks, there is another factor that comes into play, especially in the sciences and social sciences. Many faculty will require students to purchase textbooks with an access code. You can buy the code alone, but it is priced as essentially costing the same as if you get it bundled with the textbook. This code is typically only good for one semester or sometimes for one year, at which point it expires and needs to be repurchased. The code gives access to a platform with quizzes, homework and additional content. Use of this type of platform makes the professor's life easier, but it means that students can't buy used textbooks (well, they can, but then they have to buy the code for just about the same price as buying new). It is such a racket, but it is the way the textbook publishers have gutted the used textbook market. It totally sucks that the faculty go along with this stuff.
For a Calculus class I took a few years back, the online platform was based on a Wolfram browser plugin to read CDF files. It didn't work with current browsers, because the plugin architecture they depended on had been deprecated years ago, and they hadn't bothered to update it to be more current. This was usually for only one or two problems out of a set, so I'd just read the XML file and reverse-engineer the problem ... but that's a terrible option for "real" students.

I spent a lot of my career working on browsers, so the most frustrating part of it to me is that there was nothing about the online stuff which even needed special plugins in the first place. Usually it would just be some sort of animation showing how a function developed, which is entirely within the reach of in-browser code. But while the various parties wanted to charge students $200 for this special access, they didn't want to actually spend any of that money maintaining it.

The entire experience made me sad. I got into software engineering because I thought we could improve the world, not trademark it and extract value. Sigh.
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SkierMom
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by SkierMom »

They have value!

With the current way math is (not) being taught properly, neither for Physics, old textbooks from the 80's have seen a resurgence in value.

The teaching theory in high schools right now under Common Core is "Inquiry" or "Discovery"; a method of "productive struggle" for students and other non-scientific clap trap. Take a look at a high school math book right now, there are no worked examples and not nearly enough practice problems with explanations and solutions. Kids can't pass Calculus because they don't have the basics (IMHO).

For these reasons, parents are on Amazon & eBay looking for pre-Common Core textbooks, particularly any math texts from Dolciani. I picked up the Dolciani Algebra through Trigonometry high school books from mid-80's for about $4.00/book. Some of these are fetching $30/book right now as parents & tutors search them out. My kids had no Physics book (taught at H.S. mostly online) and I was looking for my old engineering texts online.

I would be interested in seeing what you have.
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SkierMom
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by SkierMom »

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.

Same! My kids are like me, they need the text opened front & center. I was after the slide rule, but oh, I still have my trusty HP 15C at my desk!

(prefer the .5 mm mechanical pencil, tho)
PVW
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by PVW »

Pigeon wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 9:56 am
For textbooks, there is another factor that comes into play, especially in the sciences and social sciences. Many faculty will require students to purchase textbooks with an access code. You can buy the code alone, but it is priced as essentially costing the same as if you get it bundled with the textbook. This code is typically only good for one semester or sometimes for one year, at which point it expires and needs to be repurchased. The code gives access to a platform with quizzes, homework and additional content. Use of this type of platform makes the professor's life easier, but it means that students can't buy used textbooks (well, they can, but then they have to buy the code for just about the same price as buying new). It is such a racket, but it is the way the textbook publishers have gutted the used textbook market. It totally sucks that the faculty go along with this stuff.
I agree that textbook publishing is a racket in the sense that the publishers can basically enforce price controls. I don't agree that faculty go along with it. Probably some do, but I have known many professors that don't like the current system. Some have resorted to self publishing their own notes. Some encourage less legitimate means. I heard a story (perhaps myth) that a professor would distribute his textbook royalties to his students.

But I'm always a little surprised at the anger over textbook pricing. Sure it's a racket, but you're already paying $50K per year to go to college. Buck up and shell out the extra $1K-$2K for the text books. It's part of the cost of attendance.
Pigeon
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Pigeon »

PVW wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:18 pm
Pigeon wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 9:56 am
For textbooks, there is another factor that comes into play, especially in the sciences and social sciences. Many faculty will require students to purchase textbooks with an access code. You can buy the code alone, but it is priced as essentially costing the same as if you get it bundled with the textbook. This code is typically only good for one semester or sometimes for one year, at which point it expires and needs to be repurchased. The code gives access to a platform with quizzes, homework and additional content. Use of this type of platform makes the professor's life easier, but it means that students can't buy used textbooks (well, they can, but then they have to buy the code for just about the same price as buying new). It is such a racket, but it is the way the textbook publishers have gutted the used textbook market. It totally sucks that the faculty go along with this stuff.
I agree that textbook publishing is a racket in the sense that the publishers can basically enforce price controls. I don't agree that faculty go along with it. Probably some do, but I have known many professors that don't like the current system. Some have resorted to self publishing their own notes. Some encourage less legitimate means. I heard a story (perhaps myth) that a professor would distribute his textbook royalties to his students.

But I'm always a little surprised at the anger over textbook pricing. Sure it's a racket, but you're already paying $50K per year to go to college. Buck up and shell out the extra $1K-$2K for the text books. It's part of the cost of attendance.
Plenty of faculty use the books with the access codes. I'm at a public university and have two kids currently in college. If you've got to teach a lecture course with fifty to a few hundred students, I'm sure it's nice to not have to create materials for the students or do any quiz grading.

There is a movement to encourage faculty to create their own "texts" using open educational resources (OERs), which are texts, chapters, videos, etc written by faculty with an open access license and/or reading lists of articles and chapters already licensed by the library accessible in the institutional learning management system. It is, however, more work for the faculty and many have no interest in spending the time to do this.

At my public institution, the cost of the textbooks absolutely does matter to students. First, our students pay less than half of the $50K/year you assume. There are many who are first generation college students and who absolutely struggle to come up with an extra thousand bucks a semester for textbooks. I have walked by the bookstore at the beginning of a semester to see students walking out in tears on more than one occasion. Students who struggle financially tend to not buy the books at all, and they also tend not to do as well in class. The problem is even worse at the comprehensive and community college level.
sport
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by sport »

MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:37 am 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.
I have that book in my library. It is a paperback 1963 printing. It is a very advanced math book. I have been away from such things for so long that I do not understand most of what it contains.

Looking at ABE Books, a used copy of the 2008 reprint can be purchased for less than $10. So, that book apparently is still being used.
shess
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by shess »

PVW wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:18 pm But I'm always a little surprised at the anger over textbook pricing. Sure it's a racket, but you're already paying $50K per year to go to college. Buck up and shell out the extra $1K-$2K for the text books. It's part of the cost of attendance.
At least for myself, I only was able to go to college because of the financial aid, so getting there and finding out that I needed to come up with an additional $600 or so per semester was ... hard. I had some real concern about whether I'd be able to cover all four years. In retrospect, there were probably resources available to help work it out, but I was the first college attendee in my family, so we didn't understand some of that stuff.

Ironically, my freshman currently attending an expensive liberal arts college seems to be spending less than expected on books.

---

Of course, there's really no reason the textbooks couldn't just be part of tuition, at least for rental. Yes, different texts cost different amounts, but I'm sure different classes cost different amounts to provide, also. Folding the cost of the textbooks into the tuition would give some incentive for good choices on the part of the instructors.
MathIsMyWayr
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by MathIsMyWayr »

sport wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:36 pm
MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:37 am 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.
I have that book in my library. It is a paperback 1963 printing. It is a very advanced math book. I have been away from such things for so long that I do not understand most of what it contains.

Looking at ABE Books, a used copy of the 2008 reprint can be purchased for less than $10. So, that book apparently is still being used.
Many of these classic books are now published by Dover Publications. You may also find some online as pdf.
Chris001122
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Chris001122 »

I didn't read the whole thread. Here is my approach.

I have kept many of my engineering text books. The main purpose at first was to pass the EIT test and then eventually the PE test. I am an EE if that matters. I did lend one of my power text books to one of my bosses at my first job. He used it to study for the PE exam. I think he also took it into the exam as that one is open book.

Yes, they have been a burden to store and move over the years. I've been out of college over 30 years now. I treat them as valuable pieces of my personal history. I was first in my family to finish college with a degree and those books were always something I looked forward to getting. Some people do sell them and that's certainly okay. I don't use mine in my work.

Now, if I have bought an engineering related book after study, I have sold those using Amazon and eBay. You can sell your used books on Amazon. Some engineering books go for quite high. I agree that if the book isn't worth more than $25 it is almost not worth your time to list it and mail it.

Good luck! God Bless. Good question. I hope to read the other posts soon.
"It's always been a mistake to bet against the United States since 1776." - Warren Buffett
rkhusky
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by rkhusky »

sport wrote: Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:36 pm
MathIsMyWayr wrote: Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:37 am 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.
I have that book in my library. It is a paperback 1963 printing. It is a very advanced math book. I have been away from such things for so long that I do not understand most of what it contains.

Looking at ABE Books, a used copy of the 2008 reprint can be purchased for less than $10. So, that book apparently is still being used.
I have Whittaker and Watson as well. Took a math class in the 80's that used it as a textbook. Glad I wasn't in the era where these problems were used as exam problems. Imagine having a few on the SAT or GRE.

I feel very fortunate that our home-schooled daughter is using my college calculus textbook this year. Talk about cool!
Unladen_Swallow
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by Unladen_Swallow »

I would donate to a 2nd hand book store.
"I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong." - Richard Feynman
psy1
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Re: what to do with old engineering text books

Post by psy1 »

Build a bridge with them?
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