Texbook prices – I just don’t even . . . .

I haven’t thought about buying a textbook in probably 20 years. Recently some of the neat sports stats stuff that Christopher Long is sharing on Twitter made me want to brush up / dig a little deeper on probability and stats, so I went looking for a book.

This morning I happened to be over at MIT, so I popped into their book store to see what textbooks they were using in their prob and stats classes. What caught by eye, though, was the prices of the textbooks for the intro courses – h.ooooooooooo.l.y. crap. Here are some links with the prices from Amazon:

Simmons Calculus – $231

Apostol Calculus I and II together – $430

and one of the stats books:

Mathematical Statistics and Data Analysis by Rice

I’m sure these are all super duper great books, but I wasn’t prepared – even a little bit – for the sticker shock.

That said, here’s a little shout out to some of the authors of books that were not so expensive:

Special gold star to Arthur Mattuck (who also happened to give me my first teaching job) and Keith Devlin:

Introduction to Analysis – $15

Keith Devlin’s book on the Millenium Problems was also $15

Some books for the advanced courses did not seem particularly expensive. For example:

Steven Strogatz’s Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos was $52


David Eisenbud’s Commutative Algebra was around $50, too


A few days ago, Steven Strogatz shared this study on Twitter:

I wonder if anyone’s ever looked at what, if any, impact the cost of the textbook has on a student’s enjoyment or performance in the course?

Anyway, I didn’t find a stats book that I wanted to buy, so that search will continue a little while longer. Instead I got this:


$20 to learn about quantum mechanics from Leonard Susskind . . . now THAT is a bargain 🙂



One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. yeah, the sticker shock for textbooks is great, but so is tuition, for private colleges especially (you are saving up for when both those boys are in Harvard at the same time, right ;-).
    I’m NO LONGER even a believer that a college education is automatically a good value for all the people who feel constrained or pressured to get one (not to mention the threat of long-term student debt threatening to blow up our economy once again!).

    Anyway, surely someone on Twitter (Ellenberg? John Cook?…) can recommend a good, not-too-expensive stat text?

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