Books reasonably priced at Coop
By Karen Kaplan
A comparison of textbook prices for popular fall-term courses shows that books are slightly more expensive at the Harvard Cooperative Society in Kendall Square than at other nearby bookstores and book exchanges, but that the Coop has the best selection.
This fall, the required textbooks for Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving (1.00) are The C Programming Language, second edition by Kernigham, and A Book on C: Programming in C-ANSI C, second edition, by Kelley. The Kernigham text sells for $33.00 at both the Coop and at Quantum Books in Kendall Square. The Kelley book costs $35.25 at the Coop and $32.95 at Quantum Books. Neither is for sale at the MIT Press Bookstore, also in Kendall Square.
As usual, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Abelson will be used for 6.001, which has the same title as the book. The Coop and the MIT Press Bookstore are each offering the textbook for $50.75. It is not carried by Quantum Books.
The Coop is the only bookstore selling Gleitman's Psychology, third edition, which will once again be used for 9.00 (Introduction to Psychology) this fall. The cost for the newly-revised text is $48.00.
Textbooks for standard freshmen classes, Physics I (8.01), Calculus I (18.01), and Principles of Chemical Science (5.11), are only for sale at the Coop. Ohanian's Physics, Volume 1, second edition, is selling for $37.50 new and for $28.25 used. Calculus With Analytic Geometry by Simmons is on sale for $62.25, and General Chemistry by McQuarrie costs $58.75. The Coop's selection of used books is small.
Coop defends pricing policy
Textbook prices are largely determined by publishing companies, said Martha Sanders, a book buyer for the Coop. She also said that books bought in large quantities are more expensive because when more books are bought, "the publisher expects returns, and returns are expensive to process. Some of the price of a textbook is the publisher's attempt to recover their costs of handling a book multiple times."
Sanders also compared cooperative societies, like the Coop, with bookstores at state-run institutions, which she said have different operating procedures. "A cooperative runs for the benefit of the members, so we try to make a profit which is shared by all the members," she said. The Coop's prices are in line with textbook prices at Yale, Dartmouth and Brown, she said, but at a state school, "they might lower their prices, or very rarely increase their prices," she said.
Over the past year, book prices have increased by an average of eight percent. "That's high, compared to other products, like stationary items," Sanders said. She said the average price of a textbook for all the textbooks sold at the Coop last term was $36.00.
The Coop normally sells used textbooks, when they are available, for 75 percent of the current price, unless the book is damaged. In addition, all new paperback books are discounted by 10 percent throughout the term, Sanders said.
Campus book exchanges may
offer lower prices
Alpha Phi Omega will run a book exchange next week, beginning on Registration Day, in room 400 of the Julius A. Stratton '23 Student Center. Students interested in selling textbooks or other books, are encouraged to drop them off, along with the price for which they are willing to sell the book, explained APO brother Kathleen Mahoney '92. Prices drop on the last two days of the sale, and those books which are unsold at the end of the week are donated to charity, she said.
Books sold at the APO Book Exchange are typically sold for between 25 percent and 75 percent of the cover price, said Richard A. Hartley '93, another APO brother.
According to APO records, less than half of the books for sale at the book exchange will be textbooks. Of the textbooks mentioned above, only one copy is for sale so far -- a Simmons Calculus text for $35.00.
The Technology Community Association will also sponsor a book exchange next week, but organizers could not be reached for comment.