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Cash for your Textbooks

July 23, 2009
This is the day of my students’ final exam.  After the exam, half of these (Calculus 2) students will sell their textbooks.  Some of them wil need the book for Calculus 3.  Some of them will want to refer to this textbok for other Math classes like DeeFee Que (Differential Equations) or Linear aAlgebra.  But those who do not need the book will sell their $150 Larson Calculus book to this van outside the school gate for $23.  And these vans will package these "used textbooks" and sell them for about $98.  For that kind of profit margin, it’s no wonder most universities have a van outside their school buying textbooks.  And it’s amazing how every van knows the final exam dates of every school.  I remember seeing two vans near to University of Pittsburgh during the final week.

Dr. James Jones was scuh a student four years ago.  He finished his Calculus 2 and was not required to do any more complicated Math because he’s going to get a pre-Med and go on to apply for a medical school (which explains why he’s called Dr. Jones now)   "I’m going to keep this textbook as a memory of what I went through as the toughest course in my 4-year college,"  said James Jones.  He was one of my most diligent students.  His words reminded me of what my classmates in NUS would say.  They would all keep their notes, books, lab reports etc at least for a while.  I would throw every thing away even befoer my final exams.  In fact, in those days, the whole entire grade was based on ONE final exam.  And that final exam is for the whole year, which would be equivalent to 2 semesters for a regular American 4-year university.
The last time I talk to Dr. Jones, he said he’s never refered to his Larson’s Calculus textbook.  "none of what I learn in Calculus is useful in medical school, " commented Dr. Jones.  I silently added, "and probably the rest of your life."  SO I did not do anything wrong when I threw away all my notes.  And for four years, I only bought one book, and that’s a Schaum Outline Series on Linear Algebra.  I did not throw that away, but I must have misplaced it.  But unlike those students who keep their "memorabila", I actually have need and use for all that I learn in the Department of Mathematics of NUS!  Yes, absolutely every single thing.
Conclusion:  Those who need their notes later on, threw everything away and those who do not, keep theirs. Wink


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