vc# 2k3 standard is only $109us!! (XE.com says $132.80can) if it's really that cheap, i'm going to try to get my hands on it after i get the book above. then i'll go back to getting the books.
oh, one last thing. to anyone who would suggest a purchase in the future - i don't have any method of buying things over the internet or phone, which is why i'm bothering with Coles/chapters in the first place. i'd probably be getting everything through stateside stores if i could do so. thanks for the suggestions, though!