A word of advice: On coursebooks

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Cold, sterile shelves of capitalism (via flickr)"]Cold, sterile shelves of capitalism (via flickr)[/caption]

Oh hey freshman carrying two very heavy-looking Labyrinth bags. What’s that? Oh, you like playing exorbitant prices for books that you’ll read ten pages of and never look at again?

For those of you who don’t wallpaper their rooms with euros or enjoy shilling top-shelf prices for absorbing titles like “Fundamentals of Microeconomics, Fifth Edition, with Special Accompanying Compact Disc You Realistically Won’t Ever Open,” take this piece of advice: Don’t buy from Labyrinth.

Yeah I guess buying books at Labyrinth would be cool, if it weren’t for the fact that Amazon has all the books you need, for a fraction of the price, and you don’t even need to schlep from Nassau with a crapload of volumes you won’t need for another four weeks. You won’t have to mess with the lines, or the humans, if that’s a sticking point for you. (Also, ever notice you can’t talk on the phone in there? Who are these people?)

Plus, now Amazon is offering a free one-year membership to its Prime service for college students (that’s you!), which means that you get free 2-day shipping for practically all the books you’re going to be ordering from them. Check the offer out here.

So, freshman with tired arms, I implore you, take those books back. There’s some fundamental microeconomics for you.

Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos ’86 to be Baccalaureate Speaker

source: princeton.edu, amazon.com

(source: princeton.edu, amazon.com)

Class of 2010 president Aditya Panda announced this afternoon that Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos ’86 will deliver the Baccalaureate address this spring.

The ceremony will take place Sunday, May 30, 2010, in the University Chapel. The last two speakers have been Gen. David Petraeus GS ’85 in 2009 and famed Harvard physician/anthropologist Paul Farmer in 2008.

No word yet whether Bezos will come bearing Kindles as gifts for the graduating class.

So what’s the verdict out there? Good choice? Or a lazy one?

Panda’s full email after the jump:

Continue reading…

Week in Review: July 27 – August 2 (Law and Order Edition)

During summer, when there are no parties to break, or drunk students to catch urinating, what exactly does PSafe do? Catch criminals, that’s what. In this week’s edition: Water guns? Public lewdness? Princeton quickly becomes the next possible locale of a CSI spin-off. Meanwhile, The New Yorker is all like, “You guys were so right about the Kindle thing,” and coincidentally “the Kindle ate my homework” becomes a viable excuse. Also, oh my God!, the Princeton Review made lists of colleges and people  freak out about them.

Public enemies.

Public enemies.

  • Remember that call you got Monday morning from the automated robot woman who cried wolf? About a possible gunman on campus and staying indoors and all that? That was because Public Safety heard from an employee that spotted a young man with what looked like a gun (prompting the flurry of emails and calls to students and faculty). Well, couple minutes later, turns out the guy was a camp counselor carrying around a water gun. Again, those sick sons of bitches at Nerf spark a Princeton lockdown . While we certainly appreciate the attention to campus safety (really! we do!), we’re sure that everyone would prefer a little more discretion at PSafe Headquarters before pressing the big red panic button.
  • Moving on down the police blotter… Guess who decided to make an appearance on campus this weekend? Yes, that’s right, our very own Professor of Public Lewdness, the Princeton Masturbator. Not to be outdone by watergun-toting teenagers, the wanker struck again, this time between Clio and West College. Sporting a hip but conservative white button-down and jeans, the young man asked a visiting lady for some directions Saturday night, while, you know, exposing his genitals. But folks!, this might be the end of an era. Shortly after receiving the call about the man, PSafe sprang into action and actually caught the perp, took him into custody, and charged him. Could this have been the wanker’s last strike? Is there more than one of them? Just why does he always hang around Clio Hall and East Pyne? Why does he always ask for directions? Is he lost and looking for a way home? So many unanswered questions – we’ll keep you updated with any answers.

Continue reading…

Week in Review: July 13 – 19

If a tree falls in Princeton during the summer, and no students are there to hear it, yes, still, nothing ever happens in Princeton. In this week’s edition: Sotomayor yada yada yada, Jeff Peek won’t be attending reunions anytime soon, moving walkways are a moving farce, the Wall Street Journal backs us up on the Kindle thing(!), a lax coach cries, and Stan Katz would love to have you for dinner tonight.



  • Meanwhile, theStreet.com updates us on another alum who’s not doing as hot as ol’ Sonia. Jeff Peek ’69 is CEO of CIT, a company providing small and midsized commercial loans. CIT’s not doing too hot these days, and on Thursday, federal regulators denied CIT a bail out. The company’s stock crashed nearly 75%. The article suggests some fingers are pointing at Peek. And a little digging found that Peek’s wife penned an anonymous article in Portfolio recently, in which she complained about how because of the recession she couldn’t throw moneybags around, or something. Princeton alums: Win some, lose some.
  • This week in “studies that contribute little to our understanding of the world”: The Telegraph reports that “Researchers have found that using [moving walkways] at airports, especially at busy times, can actually slow you down because people reduce their walking pace on the human conveyor belts and cause blockages.” Travelers everywhere slowly are realizing they have been living a lie. Princeton locomotion researcher Manoj Srinivasan contributed mathematical models to the study to show “that people slow down on walkways to reduce energy consumption.” Well, yeah, I’m sure tons of lazy people would ride around in motorized scooters to “reduce energy consumption.”
  • This week in “I told you so”: The Wall Street Journal writes on the latest  trend of using “e-books” instead of hard copy texts in higher education. They report that in a “Student PIRG study, 75% of college students said they would prefer print to digital texts.” The organization running the study “slammed existing e-textbook efforts such as CourseSmart for “being on the wrong track.” The article states also that students in pilot courses testing the Kindle have been bailing out of using the thing, preferring hard copies to e-books. They don’t see the use, it seems. Wait, that sounds familiar… Oh, yes, right, we said that.

Continue reading…

Saving paper and wasting money, the Princeton way

(source: techblog.dallasnews.com)

(source: techblog.dallasnews.com)

TechRadar reported today on Princeton’s pilot project for cutting down on paper usage by using Kindle e-books for course readings. Looks like we were right in our predictions earlier this week, but mistaken about one thing: the hardware. The project plans to use the new Kindle DX, released by Amazon today.

The awkwardly-titled “Toward Print-Less and Paper-Less Courses: Pilot Amazon Kindle Program” aims “to encourage students to work with documents online rather than rely on printing.” The University News reports that the initiative is funded under the auspices of the University’s Sustainability Plan.

The project basically looks like this:

Under the pilot, the reading materials for three courses due to start in the autumn will be loaded on Kindle DX devices. Participating students and faculty members in the selected courses will receive a free DX that they will be allowed to keep.

It’s a noble and ambitious move, sure, and apparently not all that expensive (at an actually reasonable $30,000 price tag for the University and no fee for participating students), but come on, this thing is going to fall flat on its face.

Reasons why after the jump.

Continue reading…

Free Kindles At Princeton?

(image source: blogs.law.harvard.edu)

(image source: blogs.law.harvard.edu)

You might not have to make your way to Labyrinth to pick up your 30 pounds of textbooks next semester.

Princeton is joining the likes of Yale, Oxford and Berkeley in publishing its textbooks on Kindle, which weighs a hefty… 10.2 ounces.

Meanwhile, Engadget has acquired leaks of the new Kindle, which has a larger page display and an annotation feature. The new Kindle, which may be Amazon’s attempt to make its product more attractive to a younger generation (70 percent of Kindle users are over 40), launches tomorrow.

Wired thinks the new Kindle is  going to “clean up in the textbook market.”

Textbook sized pages? Check. Note-adding capabilities? Check. Support for standard e-documents (PDF)? Check, check, check.

But how can we get them FOR FREE?

Continue reading…