You may have spent $100 for your textbook, or made your class cough up this money. That same text might have been sold overseas for half of the price or less. Today’s New York Times offers the full account.
And yes, arbitrage has begun:
At one prestigious university, a sophomore imported 30 biology books from England this fall and sold them outside his classroom for less than the campus-bookstore price, netting a $1,200 profit. Next semester, if all goes well, he plans to expand the operation.
How about this:
The differences are often significant: “Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry, Third Edition,” for example, lists for $146.15 on the American Amazon site, but can be had for $63.48, plus $8.05 shipping, from the British one. And “Linear System Theory and Design, Third Edition” is $110 in the United States, but $41.76, or $49.81 with shipping, in Britain.
Many college bookstores, meanwhile, have taken matters into their own hands, arranging their own overseas purchases.
And it is now a business. BookCentral.com will get you the text from overseas at the lower price, of course you pay them a commission.
The legal status of these reimportations remains an open question. Some publishers are placing stickers on their books, forbidding reimportation, but the Times article suggests that such reimportation is not obviously against the law.