I ask this question to Patrick C. Coaty, a political science associate professor at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa.
Coaty operated a shameless, self-enriching scheme until recently. He required his students to purchase two textbooks he'd written. That part isn't unreasonable.
But because Coaty had 516 captive consumers this semester, his books were ridiculously priced. For example, the charge for his Fundamentals and Analysis of American Government topped $96. And that's for the paperback edition!
(Evidence that the price is artificially inflated: On the open, used-books market, Coaty's work is near worthless. I recently found his books available online for a buck and change.)
Apparently, selling books at outrageous prices wasn't enough for Coaty, who didn't reply to my interview requests. He required all of his students to deface his books by tearing out pages. Failure to obey meant a failing grade.
This extra twist guaranteed that already screwed students got screwed again by Coaty. The college bookstore refused to buy back the defaced books. And the beauty of it for this prof was that each new semester, an entirely new group of students would be forced to buy his overpriced textbooks at full price.
"It's whack," one student fittingly told the Coast Report, the college paper that broke the story.
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For once, this column ends with relatively good news. Orange Coast students protested and forced the college's administrators to investigate. They ordered Coaty to end his practice.
(Periodically at OCWeekly.com, discover the depths of human depravity in Orange County, California.)
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-- R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly