So, I’m a fan. I helped a couple of students work through the process during registration, and I liked what I saw.
I like the look of the interface, I like that students can use their financial aid vouchers and buy their books with a click or two. As a faculty member, I like being able to snoop into the reading lists of other classes (both other philosophy classes at other colleges and across departments at our own) without having to use the clunky PeopleSoft thing. And, best of all, I like not sending our students to a bookstore that I thought was ripping them off, even for used books. I always liked Hector and found him helpful, but the prices at Beck’s were frequently outrageous.
So, in short, it seems like a big improvement. Kudos to anyone and everyone involved with the decision.
On the delta side of things, I (and another colleague) have noted that WAY fewer students have their texts in hand on the first day of class than when there was a physical bookstore. I have a theory as to why. When students have selected their books and are checking out, they get three options for shipping (Expedited, Standard, and something else) and each shows a range of dates. The range, though, is not standard. So the expedited option one might say, expected arrival 8/26-8/29 and cost $52 in shipping, while the standard option said the expected arrival was 8/28 to 9/6, but only cost $15. The student, then chose the standard option and said, “Well, it’s way less, and it’s only two days later.” In other words, she only looked at the first number of the range, rather than considering the possibility that she might be waiting for her books until almost the third week of class. After we talked about it, she said, “It all comes out of my aid, right?” and I nodded and she selected “Expedited.” I know to double check the second date of that range because I have messed up so many times on my own orders. Even though I buy a lot of used books on Amazon, even now I end up sometimes hoping to get them in a certain time frame and grinding my teeth for misreading the shipping information.
It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out and whether (as I fear) many students, even more than usual, will have to struggle through the first few weeks of class while waiting for books to arrive.
I have also found it interesting to watch as the prices and used/marketplace book availability fluctuates from day to day. Four days ago, a book for one of my classes (one I hoped to start with) was only available as New ($28) and it said, “On Backorder 1-2 Weeks.” But when I looked on Sunday, there were copies available under “Used” and “Marketplace” that were half the price of the new one. Then today, it only shows New as available and it is listed again on backorder. So, a student who times their order right, can save a lot of money. Possibly.
That’s what I’ve noticed anyway. Anyone else?
One thought on “Hot Take on the New Bookstore”
Hot mess is the new bookstore! Let me elaborate with a quick example. I pretended to be a student for my Math 99 class. Had I not been paying very close attention, the site would have led me to believe that I’d need to pay over $450 for the text. Assuming I was able to realize that the site had automatically chosen both the hard copy and ebook option, I would have been more disappointed when I found that my book was on back order. Apparently according to the publishing rep., there are plenty of books waiting in the warehouse. Sadly I cannot visit this bookstore in person to get answers and from what I can see, the students for my math courses are paying no less than they did previously. I’ve been putting out too many fires this week to have time to really dig into this issue. Perhaps others can comment.