Low Cost College Textbooks for Business Law, Legal Environment and Related Courses
The demise of the traditional textbook has been hugely exaggerated. Nor have recent state and federal legislation intended to reduce the high cost of college textbooks had much of an impact to date. (I’ve written about the issue elsewhere in my blog before and published a paper on the subject two years ago in a refereed journal.) Online books, book rental schemes and even the ability to buy books one chapter at a time from some of the few remaining large publishing houses have also not much diminished the effective cost for students as renting a book or “buying” an online version that is non transferable and expires after a year or less can cost significantly more than buying a used copy of a textbook and then reselling it at the end of the semester.
Nevertheless, low cost alternatives exist though they are hard to find since their low cost (and low profits for the publishers and authors that produce them) leave no room for hiring legions of sales reps to spread the word or massive mailings of free desk copies to prospective adopters. Thus, sales are slow to build and there is little incentive for such books to be produced as a consequence.
I can offer my own two recent textbooks as examples. My Business Law: An Introduction, published by Irwin/McGraw Hill for more than a decade was released as an updated, expanded second edition by textbook Media Press, my new publisher, two years ago. The original hard cover edition paid my mortgage for the better part of 10 years, was used in more than 100 community colleges, technical colleges and universities in 37 states and sold for three times its current updated paperback version. The new edition is available both in various electronic and online formats as well as in paperback ranging in price from $18.95 to $39.95. But it remains virtually unknown–even to the loyal adopters that refused to let the outdated edition go out of print for about a decade. The same is true of my Legal Environment of Business book from Prentice Hall which has been significantly updated and expanded and released as a second edition also within the past three years as Business Law and the Legal Environment of Business 2e, also from Textbook Media Press at the same price point as the shorter book. It has been adopted by a range of colleges and universities from technical colleges through at least one AACSB accredited school of business (no, not my current university), but sales are weak because the title is also virtually unknown, and even past loyal adopters are unaware that new editions exists at less than a third of the original cost of the 1993 and 1997 hard cover editions.
I don’t see an answer. But I find it difficult to justify even thinking about a third edition of either book unless sales can justify the time and energy required for the projects. Which means they too may wither on the vine and yet another viable low cost alternative to the $240 textbooks with which it competes may soon disappear. As long as faculty and students don’t see a problem with a $240 or a $100+ (the going rate for business textbooks in my discipline) book rental these will continue to exist until the entire industry collapses in on itself as fewer and fewer students buy a product made extraordinarily expensive in no small part by the push-marketing costs associated with its traditional means of distribution.
Meantime, my books–and those of other authors willing to sacrifice royalty earnings for the chance to make textbooks available at a rational price will remain a little known secret destined to die of neglect.
For what it’s worth, here is some additional information about my two current textbooks. Just click on their respective names below for my publisher’s information pages and expanded free chapter previews, or click on my publisher’s name for a link to their current catalog of college textbooks.
Business Law and the Legal Environment of Business 2e, Victor D. López 2011, (Textbook Media 2011)
[url=http://victordlopez.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/low-cost-college-textbooks-for-business-law-legal-environment-and-related-courses/Victor D. L%C3%B3pez 2011, %28Textbook Media 2011%29]
[url=http://victordlopez.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/low-cost-college-textbooks-for-business-law-legal-environment-and-related-courses/Victor D. L%C3%B3pez 2011, %28Textbook Media 2011%29]Business Law: An Introduction 2e[/url], Victor D. López 2011, (Textbook Media 2011)