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Monday, June 22, 2015

Casebook Costs

Query: In choosing a casebook for your class, to what extent is the book's cost (to the students, of course) a consideration for you?

Posted by Hadar Aviram on June 22, 2015 at 01:19 PM | Permalink


I have not assigned a print casebook in approximately 5 years largely due to the cost for students. I have used electronic alternatives ranging from the "pay what you want" PDF editions from Semaphore Press (btw, my students generally pay the suggested amount) to entirely electronic syllabii with links to all open source online materials.

Posted by: Joel Reidenberg | Jun 23, 2015 8:28:34 AM

Check out the suite of free H20 textbooks created by many on the HLS faculty for basic courses such as civ pro, crim, and contracts, as well.

Posted by: I. Glenn Cohen | Jun 22, 2015 11:26:18 PM

I use a list of cases in one of my smaller upper-level classes (mainly because I did not like any of the casebooks on the market); I even allow students to use iPads or book-readers for them in class (I otherwise ban laptops). It works well there, although I'm not sure it would work as well in a 1L class, because the students are not quite ready to do the parsing of complete cases.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Jun 22, 2015 7:46:59 PM

Important. But: (a) it's hard for me to estimate the true cost to students of assigning the newest editions, given the availability of rentals for them and a better resale market; (b) I am always skittish about assigning old editions for which scarcity and price spikes may be an issue.

Posted by: Ed | Jun 22, 2015 4:43:47 PM

Very important especially in Contracts, an area in which not much changes but authors pump out new editions. I often assign the next to last edition.

Posted by: Jeff Harrison | Jun 22, 2015 3:52:21 PM

As I'm not a law professor, I don't have much of an opportunity to assign casebooks, but I've always wondered: Why not assign a casebook as an optional text, and just list the cases (and pincites, if necessary, I suppose) needed for class in the syllabus so students can just pull them up on Lexis or Westlaw?

This seems like it would save lots of money and trees.

Posted by: The Most Interesting Breh in the World | Jun 22, 2015 3:25:56 PM

It's an important consideration, but the inquiry shouldn't stop at the book's sticker price. First, if I can responsibly assign an older (and much cheaper) edition of a book, I'll do that. Otherwise, I pay attention to whether used copies are readily available online and whether the students will have the opportunity to resell the book online after the course is finished (usually at only a small loss or perhaps even at a gain). Lastly, I check to see whether the book is available to rent. From what I can tell, most popular case books can be rented for less than $20 per semester.

Posted by: KB | Jun 22, 2015 2:13:14 PM

I have decided to stick with an older edition of the text for reasons of cost, and the ability to buy "splits" of each half of the text was an important consideration for the initial selection as well.

Posted by: Andrew Jurs | Jun 22, 2015 2:12:27 PM

It's a deal-breaker. I will not assign a $200+ book except under exceptional circumstances.

Posted by: James Grimmelmann | Jun 22, 2015 1:36:50 PM

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