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Engineering Book Costs

Clearing off the shelves produced a book I haven’t opened in a loooong time:

Vector Mechanics for Engineers - cover

Vector Mechanics for Engineers – cover

The price sticker shows that textbooks have always been expensive:

Vector Mechanics for Engineers - price tag

Vector Mechanics for Engineers – price tag

The first line looks like a date and, indeed, I took “Principles of Mechanics” in Spring 1974, so that book would cost $88.08 in 2015 dollars, based on the official CPI calculator.

It’s harder to figure college costs, but the old rule of thumb says it’s a factor of two higher than the CPI. A bit of successive approximation with a compound interest calculator suggests an annual inflation of 3.9% and 7.8% says the book would cost $403 today.

Which, it turns out, isn’t all that much higher than what our Larval Engineer has been paying for the fatter textbooks in her engineering courses.

Even using today’s worthless dollars, that’s still a chunk o’ change…

Memo to Self: As the bumper sticker puts it, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

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  1. #1 by jim oslislo on 2015-04-19 - 09:50

    Purchased in Maginnes Hall?

    • #2 by Ed on 2015-04-19 - 10:57

      Almost certainly… but, by now, I don’t even remember forgetting that. [sigh]

  2. #3 by jim oslislo on 2015-04-19 - 11:26

    I’ll never forget the sour smell of the brand new book bindings every fall in the student store. Class of ’75.

    • #4 by Ed on 2015-04-19 - 13:08

      Last we saw, RIT outsourced their bookstore to B&N and, apart from a certain emphasis on tech tomes & School Colors, it’s just like all the rest. Kids these days get used books from all over the planet; methinks there’s not much nostalgia building up…

      Fall ’74. Word: always double check your credit hour totals, no matter who added ’em up.

  3. #5 by Ned Deily on 2015-05-20 - 01:35

    As you may recall, for the first semester of freshman year, Maginnes wasn’t open yet: the bookstore was still in the UC building. And now it has moved to yet another building. Alas, I no longer have the Beer mechanics book, even if I ever would find an occasion to make use of it. Also re credit hours: I was just telling a new graduate about that commencement ceremony with the unexpected missing name in the program.

    • #6 by Ed on 2015-05-20 - 09:29

      As you may recall

      That would definitely not be me. [sigh]

      about that commencement ceremony

      Pleased to (still) serve as a bad example…

      Looks like you’re the go-to guy for Python expertise; good to see you’re doin’ good!

      • #7 by nadeily on 2015-05-20 - 19:40

        I think the “missing name at commencement ceremony” incident serves as a bad (good?) example of administrative bureaucracy and intransigence. As I recall (again), the screwup was a result of your doing good and useful things for humanity with your summer time. (And it seems like that tradition has continued, including the War on BB’s.) So it all worked out well in the end, I guess, despite the registrar.

        • #8 by Ed on 2015-05-21 - 09:13

          bureaucracy and intransigence

          Or push-pull stupidity, because I really was one liberal arts credit short at the finish line.

          Sheesh, killing those calves at the medical center really messed up my schedule. Even in retrospect, I can’t figure out what was going on…

  4. #9 by Jim R on 2015-05-21 - 17:41

    “War on BB’s”?

    I sense a story there…

    • #10 by Ed on 2015-05-21 - 18:14

      Mrph, blrgl, mmph…