New editions, core readings & placing value on books

Following our presentation at the SAGE sales conference in January we were asked some interesting questions about what would make us buy new editions of books, what guidance  we get from our lecturers and how do we place value in the resources we decide to buy. In first year I remember my lecturer for the module Environmental Risks and Hazards specifically told us to hold out and wait for the new edition of the core book which hadn’t been released yet. As an eager first year I followed his advice as the next most recent copy was dated 2009 and much has happened in the global environment since then. Unfortunately, much of the content we focussed on in the module was not as current as I had expected and I may have been better sticking with the cheaper (due to the new version release) 5th edition of the book. I spent over £35 on this book, have not used it since that module and am now thinking of trading it in on Amazon or selling it on a group Facebook page for second-hand geography books. As a student of Geography we are not given core reading material by our lecturers. Instead we are given two or three readings each week, usually a chapter or two from a different book each time. These can be accessed on the VLE usually taken from the library online store of journals, books and articles. Follow up readings are then suggested depending on where your interests lie. Though there is rarely time to study these in depth as the main set readings are at least 20 pages each.

In talking to three students of science, they comment that many things do not seem to change between editions of books but that they will buy new editions anyway if they are released to remain up to date. I agreed with them when they said that if new editions offer new features they should be clearly shown prior to purchase to justify spending another potential £40+.

It would be near to impossible for a student to buy every reference guide, core text-book and follow up books for each of the 8 modules we take each year. So how do you decide what to buy and what not to buy? 1 out of 4 of my modules this term has a core book (What is Islamic Philosophy?) running throughout, where a chapter is set each week and is then discussed in the seminar. Unfortunately there is currently only one copy of this text in the library (and no online copy available) despite it running as a module for at least 2 years now. Having not been successful in finding it online myself, the seminar tutor sent each student a link to an online version of the book, somewhat dodgy I know, but I and others weren’t willing to spend £20 on it when it realistically would never be used again.

I reiterate what I said at the SAGE sales conference, that I choose to buy books based on interest and whether I see myself using them in the future. There will always be topics that crop up again and again in Geography modules such as global consumption (energy crises etc), sustainable development and the poverty gap, all of which I have several books on. Last term I bought three books recommended by lecturers as they were more general texts that I will use in the future. This term however, I haven’t purchased any books as I can read the set reading online via the VLE and library search page and also, more importantly for me, none of this term’s readings really take my fancy.

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