Monday, September 06, 2004

El cheapo in the bookshop

Well, our entire national library system may have fewer books than a university library in a small city in upstate New York, but one good thing about the local book scene: we get plenty of cheap international textbook editions! These are usually paperback and printed on cheaper paper (though not necessarily, since I got Kandel et al's Principles of Neural Science in what seems to be exactly the same edition that's sold in the U.S. for about half the price). The other day I got Russell and Norvig's Artificial Intelligence for about 1/5 the U.S. price - this was a paperback edition, but doesn't look to be inferior quality paper.

And today, I found the strangest thing: linguistics textbooks by a variety of publishers re-published by a Chinese publisher (Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press) - again, in paperback and this time with cheap paper. I got The Handbook of Contemporary Syntactic Theory (Baltin & Collins, ed.) for S$32.35 which makes it about a quarter of the U.S. price. Funny thing is, the prefaces and introduction were all translated into Chinese (as well, of course, as being reproduced in English). The rest of the book remains the same, and with the same pagination.

Now, if only we had a few more decent used bookstores, where I wouldn't go in only to find books that I recognised from five years ago, and university libraries that I could stroll into without paying exorbitant membership fees, I would be happy.

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