iPod update: A new hope

So at the end of the comment thread on my iPod lust decision process about whether or not to buy a new iPod touch, I concluded somewhat glumly that I had probably better wait until the gap between what I’d saved up and what the 32 GB model costs is made up somehow. I am happy to announce the gap has been closed, and then some, thanks to the dude that comes around every now and then to buy back textbooks. He just happened to drop in this afternoon, and I freakin’ unloaded, to the tune of three dozen books sold back. (My shelves are happy too.)

In case you’re unfamiliar with this process, there are people who make a living off of coming by professors’ offices and purchasing unused books for cash (at a rate far less than their retail value)  and then selling them to the open market. Ever wonder where those used books in the college bookstore come from? Some of them come from students, but a lot of them come from the buy-back people.

But there’s an ethical dilemma. A lot of the books I am selling back are review copies which were sent to me, gratis, by the publisher. This practice of sending out free books all the time is a major contributor to skyrocketing textbook prices. I’m having some guilt pangs about taking the money I get from selling books, which I received for free but for which students have to pay exorbitant amounts, to buy an iPod. On the one hand, I feel like I am profiting from students’ misfortune. On the other hand, by selling books back to the book-buying dude, who will then sell them at a cut rate to campus bookstores, I am providing a robust supply of lower-cost pre-owned books to students who would otherwise have to pay a lot more for the new versions. And let’s face it, I really want that iPod.

Am I overthinking this?


Filed under Apple, Life in academia, Technology, Textbooks

8 responses to “iPod update: A new hope

  1. I agree that it could be construed as an ethical dilemma, not because of what you plan to use the money for, but anytime we sell books to these buyers. The line I drew for myself on this issue is to never sell books that I explicitly asked a publisher to send, to avoid the possibility that I’m simply running a money-laundering operation on the backs of textbook-buying students. I fear for myself that on some subconscious level, I could let myself request review copies of books I’d never use for a class with the ulterior motive of reselling them.

  2. Overthinking. Enjoy your iPod!

  3. philosopherP

    We have a new state law that prohibits those sales… or, we have to give the money to the state or somehting… The justification is that we wouldn’t have those books without our state job, so the proceeds of them belong to the state.

    I suspect that we’ll ignore this one sooner or later, just like we ignore the requirements to use frequent flyer miles for state travel.

  4. virusdoc

    If you asked for the textbooks with the intent to resell them, then you are a fiend. If you asked for them with the intent to choose a better text for a course, then you are a good professor.

    Reselling them was one of many options at your disposal, including throwing them away, recycling their paper, or giving them free of charge to a student.

    The argument that the proceeds from their sale actually belong to your institution (made by a commenter above) is a good one, but by no means legally or morally binding.

    Enjoy the Touch!

  5. diarykid

    Yes, you are.

  6. Silent|Storm

    sometimes overthinking is necessary but, not now, not ’bout this issue.

    Maybe listening some music while surfing (from bed) may relax you 😉

  7. Anything for an iPod lol…