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Bookstore woes

Late textbooks have consistently affected U of R students

Professors are also impacted by late textbooks, some have had to change what material is taught in their classes. / Alec Salloum
Professors are also impacted by late textbooks, some have had to change what material is taught in their classes. / Alec Salloum

This semester, the University of Regina bookstore has had trouble getting textbooks in on time before classes start. Unfortunately, this has been a consistent issue from past semesters up until today. Ultimately, these textbook delays create stress for professors and students.

“In the fall we had quite a few issues (with) books that were not in at the start of class and it took them sometimes two weeks to come in, so that was a very unfortunate situation,” stated English department head Troni Grande.

Not only do textbook delays affect professors’ teaching practices and schedules, but they also affect learning experience students get at the U of R.

However, according to Grande, though textbooks coming in late “sets a negative tone for the whole class,” this unfortunate situation is not entirely the bookstore’s fault.

Evidently, the publishing industry across North America is struggling to produce textbooks because certain groups of people these days are more tapped into online culture. While E-books and online texts are becoming more popular, the interest in reading and buying hardcopy books is diminishing. In turn, this cultural switch affects the U of R bookstore: added pressure for the publishers equals added pressure on smaller systems such as the campus bookstore.

This issue as a whole has caused many faculty and students at the U of R to air their concerns.

In fact, Grande said, “In the fall semester, there were a lot of complaints across the board (across different departments) so much so that people were suggesting that we contact the President directly because any kind of bookstore problems are pretty high profile problems for students at the University of Regina.”

A professor at the U of R, who wishes to remain anonymous because he works closely with the bookstore staff and does not want to get into any trouble or damage his relationship with the staff, has had numerous issues with the bookstore both in the past and in this semester.

“One year I had an Anthology and it was really the only text in the class and it was a crisis. I couldn’t get the text for well over a month and a half,” said the professor.

This semester, the professor is currently teaching three classes and has had textbooks coming in late for each class.

Check out a previous article about the economy behind the textbook industry and one students frustrated relation with it.

“My courses usually have a very strong developmental element,” said the professor. “Students are often unaware of this, but here are certain things you have to do in order…so, if I don’t get something in time, that creates a real problem.”

Textbook delays cause a whole host of problems and stress for professors. Having to re-vamp a class schedule because a book does not come in on time adds another whole layer of stress and a need for new organizational strategies to professors’ lives. In turn, all of these issues combined affect ratings of student satisfaction, which are extremely valued by the U of R. A huge part of student satisfaction has to do with receiving required texts at the appropriate time.

With midterms coming up, students need texts to come in on time in order to successfully study for their exams.

The professor said, “You’ve only got six weeks to prepare for the midterm, and if they don’t have the texts, the first two weeks are very frantic and difficult to organize.”

In Allie Jonsson’s case, a math major in the bachelor of science program, her textbook delays have caused her a sincere amount of stress.

“Last semester, my history class had four textbooks. One never came in and [my professor] had to omit that part in the class,” stated Jonsson.

“It definitely stressed me out for a bit for my history class as that class was already one of my worst classes, and I thought I wouldn’t get a good enough grade without it,” said Jonsson.

According to Jonsson, in this history class and in her statistics class, her professor didn’t get the desired text and had to use a different one. Both instructors “had to change their course plans to accommodate the lack of text books.”

Respect the books of others! If someone lends you a book, give it back in the same condition. Oh, also, be sure you give it back!

Although the U of R is likely not the only university that has issues like these, it still needs to work on resolving these issues for the sake of faculty and students.

“This issue is not strictly isolated to U of R, as my old school (Thomson Rivers University) had similar issues,” states Jonsson. “But, I hope this is an issue that can get resolved soon.”

Another student and the vice-president of the English Students’ Association, Avnee Paranjape, speaks more to the student perspective on the troubles surrounding the bookstore. She had a significant issue this semester when the textbook she needed for her ENGL 430AE class was out of stock, leaving only, as she stated, “a very well-used copy full of notes and highlighting.”

The Carillon attempted to interview the bookstore, but the U of R bookstore did not contact the Carillon before the print deadline. Both Grande and the professor who wishes to remain anonymous have hopes of seeing this problem resolved in the future.

“I had a meeting with Rayola, who is the manager of the bookstore, and she was very sympathetic to us, and she promised that they were working very hard to solve the problem,” said Grande.

According to the professor, the increased use of E-books will hopefully work towards alleviating the pressures of getting hardcopy textbooks in at the bookstore on time. Additionally, the professor recommends having more strategies available to combat textbook delays by implementing a process “by which the bookstore gives [professors] a report on progress if we call and ask ‘Is that book coming in?’”

While these are all viable solutions, the bookstore needs to address their understaffing and perhaps hire on extra help.

As the professor says, “The bookstore, I think, is, however, understaffed…if they had extra help, and I strongly recommend that in the fall that they get that extra help, so that they can make sure that certain texts that are on order meet the timing threshold.”

Perhaps, with continued collaborative problem-solving between various departments and the bookstore, the implementation of E-books, certain strategies, and extra hired bookstore staff, this issue of receiving textbooks late can be remedied in the near future.

About Destiny Kaus

Former carillon production manager/arts editor/arts writer.

One comment

  1. The simple solution is for students to voluntarily withhold their tuition payments. UofR is a service business and if it fails to deliver on some aspect of the service for which it is hired, then the customer (the student) has no moral obligation to pay. I suspect that if several hundred of the affected students voluntarily withheld their tuition payments this would sufficiently encourage the UofR to do a better job of ordering its textbooks.

    On a related note, professors should evaluate the need for a textbook and order it only if it is essential to the course. Many professors make poor use of the textbook material, and could do well to either supplement a text with public domain resources, or make better use of the (admittedly restricted) fair use laws for copying and distributing portions of textbooks without burdening the student unnecessarily with a textbook that is only of limited practical value for the course.