Crimson Reading

In partnership with the Undergraduate Council
WELCOME to cheaper textbooks for Harvard students!

Crimson Reading has helped Harvard students save tens of thousands of dollars on textbooks since September 2006. This was their website.
The new owner of the domain decided to recreate some of its content from archived pages. He definitely didn't want someone else purchasing the domain and re-purposing the site for something that had nothing in common with the original website. View this site strictly for its historical context and raise a beer in respect for the original creators of the site and their pushback against the forces of money and power.

Content is from the site's archived pages as well as other sources.

  • Find Courses - search the Harvard course catalog by schedule or by CUE rating to find the right courses for you.
  • Save Money on Books - compare the price of textbooks from eight online retailers to get the best deal.
  • Sell Used Books - use the new Crimson Reading Marketplace Facebook Application to sell or buy used books.
  • Support Charity - profits from Crimson Reading's 6% textbook referral commission are donated help build a school in Zambia - over $5500 so far!

 

NEWS

Thrifty Website Donates to Charity

By EMILY J. NELSON
CRIMSON STAFF WRITER
September 13, 2006

In an effort to help students save money while fundraising for charity, two Harvard undergraduates have launched a website that allows students to compare book prices offered by a variety of sources.

The price comparison tool of CrimsonReading.org, founded by Magnus Grimeland ’07 and Tom Hadfield ’08, distinguishes it from other student-run book-buying sites. Students can click on a course title to view all required books and compare the prices—updated every 24 hours—from six sources: The Coop, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Half.com, Abebooks, and Booksamillion.com.

CrimsonReading.org, which Hadfield said has already sold approximately $1,000 worth of books, also allows students to sell their own books and indicates whether books are available in Harvard libraries.

Big discounts tend to be offered on used books from Half.com, but used books from The Coop can be cheap too.

Currently, for example, the most expensive new book is “The Hotei Encyclopedia of Japanese Woodblock Prints,” required for Literature and Arts B-23. A new copy would cost $292.50 at The Coop. [SEE CORRECTION BELOW.] However, CrimsonReading.org says that a used version is available at The Coop for $219.50.

For all the books bought on CrimsonReading.org, sources (except The Coop) will donate a five to eight percent referral commission to a charity called Living Compassion, which will use the funds to build a school in Kantolomba, Zambia.

“Harvard students are tired of ‘get rich quick’ schemes and that’s why the profits go to charity,” Hadfield said.

Crimsonreading.org is modeled after Nuonlinebooks.com, which was launched by a Northwestern University student, Jonathan Webber.

Hadfield and Grimeland obtained course reading lists from the The Coop or directly from professors. But they would like the College to participate to ensure the site’s future success.

“We would like professors to get involved by uploading their book list information and hopefully recommending the website to their students,” Hadfield said.

Next week, Hadfield and Grimeland plan to make sourcebook articles accessible by linking their tables of contents to Harvard Library’s E-Resources.

Expository Writing and Freshman Seminars are currently the only two departments whose syllabi Hadfield and Grimeland are still working to obtain.

 

+++

Conflict between the Coop and Crimson Reading.org

Coop Discourages Notetaking in Bookstore

By GABRIEL J. DALY, 

CRIMSON STAFF WRITER 

September 19, 2007

Taking notes in class may be encouraged, but apparently it can get you kicked out of the Coop.

Jarret A. Zafran ’09 said he was asked to leave the Coop after writing down the prices of six books required for a junior Social Studies tutorial he hopes to take.

“I’m a junior and every semester I do the same thing. I go and look up the author and the cost and order the ones that are cheaper online and then go back to the Coop to get the rest,” Zafran said.

“I’m not a rival bookstore, I’m a student with an I.D.,” he added.

Coop President Jerry P. Murphy ’73 said that while there is no Coop policy against individual students copying down book information, “we discourage people who are taking down a lot of notes.”

The apparent new policy could be a response to efforts by Crimsonreading.org—an online database that allows students to find the books they need for each course at discounted prices from several online booksellers—from writing down the ISBN identification numbers for books at the Coop and then using that information for their Web site.

Murphy said the Coop considers that information the Coop’s intellectual property.

Crimson Reading disagrees. “We don’t think the Coop owns copyright on this information that should be available to students,” said Tom D. Hadfield ’08, a co-creator of the site.

According to UC President Ryan A. Petersen ’08, discussions with an intellectual property lawyer have confirmed Crimson Reading’s position.

ISBN data is similar to phone book listings, which are not protected by intellectual property law, Petersen added. Every book title has a unique ISBN number, short for “international standard book number.”

The alleged new rule is just the latest hurdle for Crimsonreading.org.

During a meeting of the Committee on Undergraduate Education last March, Petersen proposed creating a centralized database of ISBN numbers for all courses, streamlining the process for professors and cutting the costs for the Coop. The proposal, which could have also made it easier for Crimson Reading to collect information, was nixed.

“There’s a very lucrative and sensitive relationship between the Coop and University Hall that is stopping students from saving money on textbooks,” Hadfield said.

Zafran, after his altercation with the Coop, does not feel much sympathy for the store. “If they want to get their revenue up they should slash their prices,” Zafran said. “I think if anything, this policy will have the reverse effect because if students aren’t allowed to comparison-shop, students will just get all their books online,” he said. 

+++

Coop Cracks Down on Council

By CHRISTIAN B. FLOW,

CRIMSON STAFF WRITER February 1, 2007

An Undergraduate Council (UC) operation aimed at providing students with cheaper textbooks suffered a setback when Harvard Coop officials asked UC representatives to leave the floor where they were collecting information on textbooks.

Tuesday’s incident, however, did not prevent the student-run Web site crimsonreading.org from going live this week. The site, known as Crimson Reading, allows prospective buyers to compare textbook prices online.

ISBN numbers are the ten-digit numbers attached to each book to serve as unique identifiers. “We need that database of ISBN numbers to keep the Web site running,” Crimson Reading co-founder Tom D. Hadfield ’08 said.

And in fact it was Hadfield himself who, together with a few friends, spent much of August in the Coop bookstore, using notepads to record ISBN information for nearly 2,500 textbooks to get the site up and running in September. With the spring semester set to begin, he said, he thought it wise to enlist the help of the UC.

According to UC President Ryan A. Petersen ’08, about 95 percent of this spring’s ISBN numbers were eventually recorded, despite the Coop’s intervention.

Still, the friction with Coop officials was frustrating, said Petersen, who had initially hoped that the Coop would freely provide the ISBN numbers of the textbooks it carried.

“Our goal is to make sure textbooks are cheaper both in the store and online and the only way we can accomplish that is by working with the Coop,” he said. “Which is why this setback has been a little disappointing.”

According to a senior manager at the Coop who requested to go unnamed because of store policy, the UC representatives were asked to leave because they failed to have their activities approved in advance. Also at issue was what he said was the sensitive nature of the information being taken.

“We hadn’t been notified, and what we had were students in every aisle with spreadsheets, writing down ISBN numbers,” he said. “The ISBN is a lot of work to get. It’s almost intellectual property.”

The process of isolating the appropriate ISBN number for a particular course textbook, the manager said, involves multiple phone calls to professors and publishers. Student-set prices would not reflect the time and resources necessary to obtain the ISBN.

This undercutting, he added, would be injurious to other students, who would have to deal with tightened restrictions on textbook returns.

Hadfield, however, said he suspected different motivations for ISBN-withholding on the part of the Coop.

“The Coop charges too much for textbooks and they don’t want people to find out,” he said. “They are not keen on us writing down ISBN information because they do not want students to find out that they are charging too much for textbooks.”

Hadfield did note that while the Coop was aware that he was copying ISBNs in the fall, they never gave him the “explicit permission” to write them down.

“The thing that’s funny about it is that I personally had interactions with the employees there,” said UC Representative Benjamin P. Schwartz ’10. “And one of them actually asked if we needed anything and another said, ‘Oh, so you’re finally getting them online.’ So it’s not that we were in any way being sneaky and deceptive.”

According to Petersen, Crimson Reading takes a 7 percent referral on its sales, 75 percent of which goes to help build a school in Zambia. The other 25 percent goes to support UC projects.

Hadfield said that $50,000 worth of books were sold on Crimson Reading during the fall semester, $3,000 of which went to Zambia.

“This semester,” Hadfield said, “I would love to double that with the UC’s help.”

+++

Harvard Bookstore Calls the Cops

9/24/2007

I thought the saga of The Harvard Coop would be over once the inanity of its claim that the ISBN numbers of books used in Harvard courses were their intellectual property. The ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a 13 digit number and barcode used by publishers to identify books uniquely. Harvard students were going to the text book section of the Coop (the original name of the Harvard Cooperative, later bought by the Barnes and Noble College Division), copying down the ISBN numbers and then making them available online via CrimsonReading.org, a service that automates comparison shopping. I’ll tell you more about CrimsonReading.org shortly, but here’s is the latest stupidity. Not satisfied with the bad publicity of asking a student to leave for copying down information on six books he needed for a course, they have now compounded it by calling the cops:

The Harvard Coop called police yesterday after three undergraduates collecting information for a student-run textbook-shopping Web site refused to leave the bookstore. The two Cambridge police officers who arrived allowed the students to continue copying down book identification numbers, which they did for two and a half hours before leaving on their own terms.

The Cambridge Police Department said its officers removed three or four males from the Coop’s third floor, where textbooks are sold, at a Coop official’s request after receiving a call from the store at 4:34 p.m. But a Crimson reporter and photographer present did not see anyone removed, and the three students collecting data for the Crimson Reading Web site also said they did not witness the police escorting anyone from the floor.

The tense afternoon at the venerable 125-year-old bookstore comes two days after the Coop reaffirmed a policy discouraging students from copying down book identification numbers. Students are able to go online and use those numbers, known as ISBNs, to find better deals for textbooks.

The year-old, student-run crimsonreading.org site allows Harvard students to find cheap textbooks at Internet booksellers by clicking on the courses they are taking. The Coop has argued that it owns intellectual property rights to the identification numbers for the books it stocks, which are organized by course on the third floor. Crimson Reading Director John T. Staff V ’10 insists the information is in the public domain.

Staff was at the Coop yesterday from about 4:30 until 7 p.m. Coop officials repeatedly asked Staff, Adam Goldenberg ’08, and Jarret A. Zafran ’09 to leave the floor, but the students refused.

A spokesman for the Cambridge police, James DeFrancesco, said that no crime was committed and no arrests were made.

Two Cambridge police officers arrived at the scene at about 5:30 p.m. They departed after talking to Coop officials, and Staff was able to continue copying down ISBNs.

Coop President Jerry P. Murphy ’73 did not return repeated requests for comment last night. (The Harvard Crimson via Boingboing)

Good for the Cambridge Police Department. They shouldn’t be forcing students to leave a public space when no law was being broken and there was no interference with the operation of the business or the rights, comfort or well-being of any other patron or employee. And they didn’t.

This retail bookstore, owned by a book retail giant, is making itself a laughingstock and affording oodles of free publicity for this service. I hope students in other places follow suit. That’s what capitalism is all about, right? The Market? Competition? Innovative retailing and marketing? Maybe The Coop thinks this is unfair. Tough. ISBNs aren’t intellectual property. Period. B&N and other big chains have put thousands of small, independent booksellers out of business because they could sell books cheaper and maintain a bigger inventory. Now it’s their turn to become the buggy whip maker in an Automobile Age.

Take a look at the CrimsonReading.org site. It is a very nice referral site that facilitates comparison shopping (pick some courses and books at random and take a look at the range of prices; some vary by almost an order of magnitude). The service gets a 6% referral fee (which doesn’t come out of your pocket but the booksellers). A portion goes to the Harvard Undergraduate Council and the rest goes to this charity:

A portion of the profits are invested in supporting undergraduate life by the Undergraduate Council, and the rest is donated to a charity called Living Compassion to help build a school in Zambia. Crimson Reading has sold textbooks worth about $100,000 in the past 12 months and raised $5500 for Kantolomba, an impoverished community on the outskirts of Ndola, Zambia’s second largest city.

Houses in Kantolomba range from cardboard walls with plastic roofs to mud walls with tin roofs. There is no running water or electricity, and sewage flows through the dirt streets. (CrimsonReading.org)

You don’t have to be a Harvard student to use the service, although of course you have to want a book used in a Harvard course. If it’s good enough for Harvard, though, it’s probably good enough for you.

Wait a minute. I can’t believe I just said that. Never mind.

+++

MOBILE READ THREAD

 

Alexander Turcic
09-20-2007, 06:43 AM
Caution: Writing down book prices might infringe intellectual property and get you thrown out of bookstores. No kidding, as it happened at the Harvard Coop (http://harvard.bkstore.com/) bookstore.

Jarret A. Zafran '09 said he was asked to leave the Coop after writing down the prices of six books required for a junior Social Studies tutorial he hopes to take.

"I'm a junior and every semester I do the same thing. I go and look up the author and the cost and order the ones that are cheaper online and then go back to the Coop to get the rest," Zafran said.

"I'm not a rival bookstore, I'm a student with an I.D.," he added.

Coop President Jerry P. Murphy '73 said that while there is no Coop policy against individual students copying down book information, "we discourage people who are taking down a lot of notes."


Steven Lyle Jordan
09-20-2007, 09:35 AM
Well, after all, it's Harvard. Not known as the most forward-thinking of institutions...
HarryT
09-20-2007, 09:47 AM
I do think, however, that it's a rather despicable practise to go and browse through books in a "physical" book store, and then go away and order the same books online because they are cheaper. Of course they are cheaper online - the seller doesn't have the expense of running that expensive store!

If many people do that, the inevitable consequence will be the demise of book stores - especially the small independents who can't possibly match the prices offered by Amazon, etc.
Steven Lyle Jordan
09-20-2007, 09:58 AM
The story did suggest that some books were cheaper at the coop, and that he would buy those. Otherwise, why go at all... get 'em all online. 

I'm not opposed to shopping for the lowest price, and buying from that source. If the bookstore had its prices online, it would be the same as shopping between Amazon and Barnes and Noble online, and buying from the cheapest.

I have more of an issue with shopping at a store that allows you to see, try, and compare a product, taking advantage of salespeople to help you... and then buying online. There's rarely a need for that kind of shopping with books. 

On the other hand if you were shopping for comfy dog beds, I would definitely want to check them out. First of all you would want to make sure the dog bed was comfortable and sized correctly for your fuzzie. Some dog beds are way too soft or don't have enough filling. My dog needs a really well made bed with sturdy fabric. You can't tell the quality of the fabric or the bed's construction unless you can take an actual look. Well you get the point.

Whether they like it or not, even Harvard has to compete with the marketplace, and that includes online sources. If they deal with that by throwing out people who are aware of other places to buy their books, how long do you think they'll stay in business? How long would you want them to stay in business?
JSWolf
09-20-2007, 09:59 AM
If Harvard University would lower their tuition, then that sort of thing would not need to happen.
nekokami
09-20-2007, 11:23 AM
HarryT, I wouldn't waste any tears on the Harvard Coop. Save it for regular bookstores. This is the textbook market we're talking about-- if you don't check prices and shop around, you can easily end up spending hundreds of dollars more per semester.
RWood
09-20-2007, 12:23 PM
First, this is the Harvard Coop -- a cooperative of current and former students and instructors -- not Harvard University. Each year you receive a rebate check based on how much you spent. Last I checked membership was a few dollars per year. For many years there were no rebate checks. The main store is in Harvard Square and the rent alone is astounding.
jamesdmanley
09-20-2007, 12:49 PM
i wont shed any tears for people in the text book market. its ridiculous how they make superficial changes and release new "editions" every other semester just to sell new books. on top of that schools get what is essentially a kickback for using these books in classes. i dont feel bad at all for returning text books i bought at my school's brick and mortar books store when i found a MUCH better deal on amazon.com. i saved what was close to a weeks worth of tuition for 2 classes and i got NEW books rather than USED.
HarryT
09-20-2007, 12:55 PM
As a textbook author myself (I've written a couple of physics textbooks) perhaps my views in this area are a little "coloured" by self-interest :).

The main difference between textbooks and mass-market fiction is the size of print runs, and that's what makes them expensive. Very often only 2000 copies of a textbook might be printed, which would be a ludicrously small print run by fiction standards. That's why the unit costs are high, and textbooks are expensive.

Believe me, you aren't ever going to meet a wealthy textbook author :grin:.
jamesdmanley
09-20-2007, 12:58 PM
or college student
Robert Marquard
09-20-2007, 01:03 PM
The real problem is they claim the ISBN as their IP.
That position has several problems. The ISBN cannot be property of the shop. It is printed on the book by the publisher and is part of the book. Apart from that writing down the ISBN is definitely fair use.
NatCh
09-20-2007, 02:34 PM
To chime in as a former employee of a text-book shop, whose boss was pretty open about explaining how things worked:

As HarryT mentioned, part of the problem is the small print runs, I'd combine that with a captive market demographic.

In Texas (I don't know about other states), markup on new textbooks is limited by law to 35% (we only did 30% -- which about covered the cost of paying we peons to unpack them, price them, and put them on the shelves) -- 'regular' books are 40% for comparison.

The only ones who really make much money on new textbooks are the publishers -- who, incidentally, are responsible for the frequent, barely changed new editions: once a certain population of used books gets out into the wild, folks stop buying the new ones altogether, so they adjust it slightly, and release a new one.

The real money for textbook stores are the used books. Think about it, they buy it for 50% and re-sell it for 75% -- a 50% markup. And in a lot of cases they don't even have to put on a new price tag, just stick it back on the shelf, and off you go.

Oddly enough, the student population and the textbook sellers both love used books for exactly the opposite reasons: the sellers because they make more off them, and the buyers because they pay less for them. :headscratch:
LaughingVulcan
09-20-2007, 07:49 PM
The way around it is simple: Harvard lists class syllabi on their website. Get the book list from the syllabi and do your web research ahead of time for the books. Then walk into the bookstore with your book list and the lowest price you've found so far. Books that are lower, buy 'em.

Every school bookstore in the universe (or the equivalent) prefer you to buy all your books from them. (And it helps them pre-order, of course...) But there ain't no law that I'm aware of restricting your right to buy them from wherever you want to.
donovanh
09-21-2007, 07:51 AM
I don't get how people would have an issue with comparing prices. When you go shopping and look in several stores, price is usually one of the things being compared (not always the only factor, but with textbooks it's pretty important), so what is the problem with comparing the price from a store and the price online?

Shops provice a service, and have the advantage that their products are right there in front of the customers. Could you imagine an online store owner saying "I find it despicable that these stores would have books sitting right there for people to conveniently browse and buy immediately. Of course it's quicker to buy from the store, the book's right there!"

If it's all about saving money though, there are other things to take into consideration. Firstly, the time and possibly any travel expenses involved in going to a physical store simply to check their prices, and secondly, whether it's worthwhile waiting for a postal delivery of a book that could otherwise be bought right there and then. For the average paperback novel I would imagine the savings wouldn't be worth the time and effort.
NatCh
09-21-2007, 01:28 PM
You have to look at it from their perspective though, donovanh, if you come in and look at their prices and buy elsewhere, they're providing a service, which costs them, and realizing no revenue from it -- if that happens too much, they go out of business. In short, they're there to sell the books, not to provide a price comparison service.

I'm not saying I agree with what they did in asking the fellow to leave, just that I can see their point. :shrug:
nekokami
09-21-2007, 01:44 PM
I don't know. These days most brick-and-mortar stores have to compete with online stores. They all need to rely on the convenience of local shopping and lack of shipping costs vs. the price pressure from the online stores. (And let's not forget that the store's shipping costs are part of the reason for their prices.) A store that doesn't want to allow competitive shopping isn't going to last in either environment. Suppose Amazon didn't let you see the prices of books until you were actually placing an order? I don't think they'd get much business.

I suspect the real reason the coop was watching this student is because they've had problems in the past with students using the coop as a library-- coming in, looking in books, writing down a few key facts or references, and leaving, with no intention to buy the book at all. That's what the quote from the manager implies, anyway. But the headline saying they own the book prices sounds so much more sensational.

@HarryT, I know textbook authors get next to nothing on textbook sales, and I know about the scale problem with print runs, but I don't think that excuses the prices the publishers are charging for the books. The textbook authors would probably get more money and keep prices lower by self-publishing through a POD service, but of course textbook publishers do provide some editing and a *lot* of marketing, so the author would have to be fairly well-known to go that route.
NatCh
09-21-2007, 03:25 PM
The biggest thing that textbook publishers provide is a reliable supply of the books. The bookstore can place an order and know that 98% of the time the books will be in the store in pretty short order.

I'm not suggesting that other methods couldn't produce similar reliability, but that expectation will have to be met for another method to make headway. Beyond that, it'll have to be proven to meet it to every decision maker in the chain, and that's the big hurdle, I think.
ischeriad
09-22-2007, 07:46 AM
I find this discussion very interesting. Here in Germany, we have fixed book prices, every book that is publised here has a fixed price by law.

A friend who worked at a bookstore for some time told me, the policy of this bookstore chain was to let people read as much as they like in the store. It's also quite common here to have sofas in stores so you can sit down and read. I have even seen reading lamps above each seat.

When I buy books for university, the only consideration is where I probably will get the book first. Most stores get the books for the next day, amazon takes longer, but you don't have to leave your home. Also, amazon.de has no shipping fee if you order only books.
balok
09-22-2007, 01:04 PM
I do think, however, that it's a rather despicable practise to go and browse through books in a "physical" book store, and then go away and order the same books online because they are cheaper. Of course they are cheaper online - the seller doesn't have the expense of running that expensive store!

If many people do that, the inevitable consequence will be the demise of book stores - especially the small independents who can't possibly match the prices offered by Amazon, etc.

I can't believe my eyes. You sound like you're defending a practice that stifles competition in a free market. Comparing prices is the right of every consumer. 

If the consequence is the demise of regular book stores, I have no problem with that, as long as consumers come out ahead in the game with a lower bottom line.

There must have been people who cried the loss of the horse drawn buggy when cars and trains were invented. Imagine the poor blacksmiths who were put out of work. What a shame. Or how about the telegraph operators-- all that training to learn how to recognise dots and dashes, speeds of 100wpm, amazing. What a shame they became completely useless when the phone was invented. Should we throw away our computers and buy typewriters so the last typewriter company doesn't go out of business? Enough examples.

Perhaps the only virtue of regular bookstores is the fact that you can get some tips from the sales person. But let's be serious here. How many sales people have actually read the books? What do they know anyway? I personally have never had any real help from a sales person in a book store. What I find far more helpful is looking at online book reviews. So even in this field, online book sales have the edge.

Regular bookstores will continue to exist, but only for consumers who can't overcome the technical barrier or who are willing to pay more for the human touch. I have nothing against that. But if that means giving up market share in favour of online stores, I'm all for it.
HarryT
09-23-2007, 04:54 AM
I can't believe my eyes. You sound like you're defending a practice that stifles competition in a free market. Comparing prices is the right of every consumer. 

Certainly it is; I agree with you entirely.

There must have been people who cried the loss of the horse drawn buggy when cars and trains were invented. Imagine the poor blacksmiths who were put out of work. What a shame. Or how about the telegraph operators-- all that training to learn how to recognise dots and dashes, speeds of 100wpm, amazing. What a shame they became completely useless when the phone was invented. Should we throw away our computers and buy typewriters so the last typewriter company doesn't go out of business? Enough examples.

I think you've misunderstood what I'm saying. I'm certainly not in favour of stifling innovation. What I'm saying that I believe is despicable are people who take advantage of the facilities that physical book shops provide in the way of being able to browse the shelves, read snippets of books, etc, but then, once they've found that book they want in the shop, go home and order it online rather than from the shop simply because it's a few £ cheaper.

Perhaps the only virtue of regular bookstores is the fact that you can get some tips from the sales person.

No, for me, the virtue of physical bookshops is the experience of being able to "browse" and see what's available. That's something you can't do in an online shop - at least not in the same way. I very often go into my local bookshop for one thing, and come out with half a dozen completely different books which I've spotted while browsing. I just wouldn't do that in, say, Amazon, where I'd just type in the title of the one specific book that I wanted.

I buy lots of books online, don't get me wrong. But what I would never do would be to spend a pleasant hour in my local Waterstones, find some books that appealed to me, and then go home and buy them from Amazon to save a few quid. That just strikes me as being completely unethical.
TadW
09-23-2007, 07:16 AM
As if the headline isn't already enough to make milk sour, check out this follow-up (http://www.boingboing.net/2007/09/22/harvard-coop-arrests.html):

The Harvard Coop bookstore had the police remove students who were writing down the ISBNs of textbooks, in defiance of the store's ridiculous position that ISBNs are "property." Of course, the store is private property (albeit property owned by a co-op that is supposed to be serving Harvard students) and they're free to demand that students leave the premises, but busting students whose "crime" is writing down detailed information about which books Harvard students are required to read in order to get their degree is hardly appropriate for a store that nominally serves the students' interests.

:wall:

Full story: here (http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=519615)
HarryT
09-23-2007, 08:56 AM
I don't understand. Does the university not provide students with a list of the textbooks required for their courses? Why would they need to write down the ISDNs in a bookshop?
TadW
09-23-2007, 09:11 AM
I don't understand. Does the university not provide students with a list of the textbooks required for their courses? Why would they need to write down the ISDNs in a bookshop?

Well, I can immediately think of one example: Quite often the list only includes the textbook's title, but not its ISDN. Let's say I want to buy the textbook online or somewhere else, but I don't know which exact edition the teacher will use in his classroom. For that reason, I would go to the university bookstore and check out the ISDN of the books my teacher put there on shelf.
igorsk
09-23-2007, 09:31 AM
It's ISBN. ISDN is something else :)
HarryT
09-23-2007, 10:16 AM
Sorry - a typo. I do know the difference, honestly :).
nekokami
09-23-2007, 11:41 AM
My professors usually include the title, author, and edition in the syllabus. Harvard's syllabi are all online, apparently, so it's probably possible to get the information about the books, including ISBN, by looking up the book online using available information. However, if one is running a website which attempts to provide pricing information on all the required books for a semester, this would be quite a lengthy process. A script running off the ISBNs would be much more efficient. So I can see why the students wanted to be able to go through the Coop and copy the ISBNs. But that's a level of convenience I don't think the Coop is required to provide. If an individual student wants to get prices and ISBNs for their books from the Coop and check prices elsewhere, I think they should be able to do that. But going through the entire textbook floor and copying down ISBNs and prices... I guess I can see why the Coop would try to block that. I don't know as they legally can block it, but I can see why they would try.
ischeriad
09-23-2007, 12:35 PM
I see not much of a problem. Prices and ISBN are usually at the back of the book, so they don't even need to be opened, they can even stay shrink-wrapped.
Paging through books and copying content, say formulas, is bad behaviour - but writing down prices?
maggotb0y
09-24-2007, 03:51 PM
I don't understand. Does the university not provide students with a list of the textbooks required for their courses? Why would they need to write down the ISDNs in a bookshop?

My information may be a bit dated, but here is how things usually work at large universities in the states.

Most students try to purchase books before the semester starts (especially when purchasing online). Most professors do not post a syllabus with a book list before the first day of class. Most professors do provide the book list to the university bookstore ahead of time.
Lemurion
09-26-2007, 01:35 PM
I think the Coop went too far. ISBNs are not privileged information.

 

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