Textbook scam has students emptying their wallets

15 years ago Comments Off on Textbook scam has students emptying their wallets

CBS Evening News aired a story on Wednesday, Nov. 26 regarding a new textbook scam that could have many students across the country scraping their pennies together.

Middle Tennessee State University history professor, Jim Williams was contacted by North West Publishing who offered him $2,500 to review one of their textbooks. However, not only would he have to “review” the textbook, he would have to require his students to buy it. The publishing company charged $70 for each book when the book was otherwise available over the Internet for $20.

Williams told CBS News that he felt that the publisher was trying to bribe him to use the textbook. Williams had signed a contract with the publisher who said if he did not order the book, he was not fulfilling his end of the contract.

In the end, Williams never received his $2,500, however CBS News said North West Publishing offered $2,500 because they know Williams had many students in his class. With the textbooks priced at $70 each, “it doesn’t take an economics major to do the math.”

Another history professor, Louis Haas had a contract with North West Publishing Company as well until they fired him for not selling enough books.

“They’re hornswaggling people. I got hornswaggled,” Haas said to CBS News correspondent Jim Acosta.

How does this affect Sam Houston State University? It might not. J. Donald Ragsdale, professor of speech communication at SHSU said he saw the textbook scam segment on CBS News.

“I’ve been teaching 40 years and I’ve never seen that happen before,” Ragsdale said. “It may be a new gimmick, but at least in the past it hasn’t been common.”

Ragsdale said if this process is not illegal, it should be because “it’s just straight bribing someone,” Ragsdale said.

Ragsdale has reviewed textbooks for standard publishing companies in the past, one of them being Allen and Bacon.

“I’ve reviewed textbooks in the past, but it was nothing like the CBS show,” Ragsdale said.

He said the publishing company will usually pay $50 to $200 for a professor to review a textbook, but there is no obligation to order the book for classes.

“It’s just a fee for service. I’m doing a job for them, and a lot or professors do it,” Ragsdale said.

He also mentioned that the only reason North West Publishing offered such a large amount of money to these particular professors was because they taught huge classes.

CBS news said North West Publishing not only affected Middle Tennessee State University, but they were also targeting many other universities across the country.

They declined CBS’ request for an interview, however they said they were scrapping their review offers. They also told CBS News in an email that textbook adoption was never a requirement for the program. However, it is this program that is causing book prices to increase rapidly, emptying out the wallets of many hard working college students across the country and possibly SHSU someday.