They sound what my uni called "bricks" - a bunch of licensed copies of reading material, all stapled together. They cost about $10-$50, as opposed to $50-$100 for a 101 text (note, this is Australia, the US has more expensive additions of textbooks for no good reason).
There are two kinds of bricks - draft textbooks, and collections of papers.
It's quite common to get a draft textbook as a brick one year, then laugh at the students the next year who pay for the textbook when it's finally published.
It seems a bit weird to publish a collection of papers as a textbook, especially at a low undergrad level, but I hear it's happening these days.
<I>It seems a bit weird to publish a collection of papers as a textbook, especially at a low undergrad level, but I hear it's happening these days.</I>
Took a macro-economics class at my local community college. One of the required texts was a collection of essays that the professor had written (much of it incoherent blabble but that's a different topic), collected into a 130-page paperback that looked like it might cost $3.99 at the local BN. Cost: $55. No copy available in the library.