With the second week of classes drawing to a close, the semester is about to go into full swing. Assignments have already been completed and graded, and papers and tests are looming over many students. But some are potentially more nervous than others because they do not all have textbooks.
After the spring semester finished, book orders were completed and given to the campus bookstores. Once the final list of books was completed, students gained access to the necessary lists on ReggieNet. Many students, however, order their books the first week of class and end up panicking when books are unavailable.
It is important to keep in mind that not everyone falls into this category or struggles to get the required books. Some students order online and use the in-store pick up option available at both the Alamo II and the Barnes and Noble on campus. This ensures that they will receive their books and will not have to wait in as long of a line.
So, why do some students not have the required books the first week of class when they go to pick them up from campus bookstores? Alamo II store manager Larry Ernat believes that there could be multiple reasons, one of them being that more sections of certain classes get added later and those books are not ordered as soon as others. He also noted that some departments simply order their books late and that sometimes a book can go out of print, saying, “There are a finite amount of books.”
However, Libby Barna, the Department of English office manager, believes that there are other problems at hand. “The interaction between the bookstores and the departments about issues that arise has certainly declined, though.”
She went on to describe one possible solution to this problem: “They [the bookstores] could employ a secondary storage system for the first few weeks of the semester … I understand why they don’t want to have so many books in their store if they’re not going to sell … It would be a lot easier to send someone across town to a storage facility to restock than to try to get titles through the publisher, which can take weeks.”
Even this system could be flawed. Ernat explained, “We order on history. We order up, and we guarantee our best price promise … The textbook manager is very student-centric, which is a testament to my textbooks and my company. I’m very proud of that.”
One issue that Ernat noted is that when multiple classes use the same book, he writes a note explaining where the books can be found, instead of distributing them across multiple shelves. He said that some students do not read the sign or do not understand where to go instead.
With the increase of e-readers on campus, another problem could be on the rise. Ernat explained that right now his staff is “aggressive in promoting the used rentals because not enough people realize the value of renting,” but the Alamo II does already carry titles online, access codes and jumpbooks.
English professor Tim Hunt believes that “within 10 years, electronic textbooks will be the norm.” His only problem with this stems from students “trying to substitute electronic texts that aren’t the actual textbooks being used in class,” but he firmly believes students should have the choice of using a paper version or electronic version.
“Students should be told their options,” Ernat agreed. His store tries to initiate this process at Preview, where he educates the families of incoming freshmen on the options available. He also mentioned that textbook prices are less expensive than they were eight years ago, when he started his current position, adding that if there is a demand for more books, the Alamo II will order them.
Barna encourages students to buy their books sooner. “Don’t wait until you get back to campus to order your books. Make a trip over the semester break to the bookstore and get your books early.”
Miscommunication between departments and the bookstores, as well as between the bookstores and students seems to be the culprit behind a lot of the current problems at hand. Students should remember that textbooks on ReggieNet are listed as “required” if they are necessary for the semester and as “recommended” if they are just strongly encouraged. Ordering textbooks online immediately following the displayed list of books and choosing the in-store pick up option will save time, stress and money, especially since there will not be a delivery fee. Renting often pays off too. Students can rent a used book for a much lower rate than purchasing a used book, and they will not deal with trying to sell back the book for the top amount, usually much less than what they bought it for originally.
Waiting until the last minute does not usually work out well for anything else, why would buying books be any different?