Recently, as in previous semesters, students have voiced concerns about the campus bookstore. These issues include a lack of selection, availability and communication from the bookstore. Students receiving emails stating that their books are ready to be picked up, yet upon arrival, the books are not there. As many courses are dependent on textbook knowledge for quizzes, tests, lectures and other material, this is a setback for professors and students alike.
The bookstore is managed by Follett, and when speaking with students and staff members, they remarked that there was little to no communication from Follett regarding these mix-ups and absences of necessary material. These concerns are, evidently, nothing new, but have been increasingly strenuous this semester.
“I have found (the bookstore) unresponsive to questions or concerns. They continually seem not to stock my course texts, and I often only learn of this issue from students when, come Week 2 or 3, they still don’t have the textbooks they need,” Jordan Windholz, an SU professor, said. “As faculty, we often put in our textbook requests for the upcoming semester about halfway through our current one. It takes time and planning, especially if we are teaching a new course or if new editions or options for textbooks have become available.”
Planning classes and studying for classes both take time, and as does reading required textbook information. This group academic effort revolves around the campus bookstore. Students have been left without lab manuals, unable to study material for quizzes and are generally left wondering if the money they have spent on textbooks they do not have access to is worth it.
That’s not to say there are no other options. Many students rent textbooks from companies like Chegg or Amazon, borrow from friends or buy cheap used copies online. The library also provides textbooks that students can borrow. While these are all valid solutions and often less expensive than the bookstore, Shippensburg University’s on-campus resource for textbooks should be at the very least reliable for its students.
Maybe these other ideas do work better for some but deciding that these other options are sufficient rather than putting effort into improving the bookstore is not the most equitable solution. Windholz stressed that not all students are able to easily order books online, and that this must be more than just a consideration for the university. “Students should get the services their taxes and tuition pay for.”
But it’s important to note that the current availability issue is likely not the fault of anyone at the bookstore or Follett. COVID-19 has caused major problems with the supply chain, leaving major corporations unable to get basic supplies and stock. There also may be additional, outside problems of which the student body is unaware.
Our concern for the bookstore is that there is little to no response from Follett, and that students are not truly being updated on the status of the materials for which they have paid. Not only that, but book availability is not always accurate. These inconsistencies in communication leave students wary of the bookstore because of the academic and financial damage it causes.
“Faculty put book orders in through the bookstore, and we rely on it so students can have the books they need for class. But faculty don’t have real influence over how it is run, nor did we have much say over it being outsourced to Follett,” Windholz said. It appears to the student body and staff that the issues they have obtaining materials through the campus bookstore is not a priority for the administration, which is frustrating as students rely on these resources for their classes.