Home / Op-Ed / The problem with the online bookstore

The problem with the online bookstore

author: jj bittenbeinder | contributor

Jeremy Davis

In my four years as a student at the University of Regina, the bookstore has been the subject of the frustrations for myself and other students. The astronomically high textbook prices paired with low reimbursement to those utilizing the textbook buyback are often the subject of student complaints.  

However, frustrations have been intensified this semester with the bookstore being under renovation, only allowing students to purchase books online. This has put many individuals at a disadvantage, including those who do not have access to credit cards, individuals who are making changes to their classes and schedules, those who prefer to have an understanding of how relevant the textbook will be to the course, and students who prefer to know what kinds of resources have been put on hold in campus libraries before purchasing.  

It is inconveniencing for many to have to order in advance before they have fully committed to their schedule or had the opportunity to talk to their professor about how vital the text will be to the course work. The flexibility of being able to go to the bookstore on the first week of classes has been completely removed.  

Additionally, I have heard numerous complaints from friends and students regarding the online ordering process. Many had difficulty registering for accounts as well as having their cards declined despite having sufficient funds in their accounts. Additionally, students have received messages stating that there have been errors with the system that the bookstore is using which make the process of buying books even more stressful and inconvenient.  

I also wonder why the bookstore needed to be renovated and why there wasn’t more discussion surrounding this decision. It seems like if a renovation was, in fact, necessary, it would have made more sense to do it in the summer, when there are less students on campus, to lessen the untimeliness of the renovation for students. It seems like the situation was poorly handled and that the students on campus weren’t kept very informed of the choices that were being made.  

However, I do believe that there are more complex issues regarding the bookstore that need to be tackled in the future. I think that some professors do make an effort to have free and open source materials available to their class, as well as textbook copies on library reserve, and I think that more should follow suit. I know many professors can be removed from or unaware of the cost of text materials to students. In fact, a professor of a friend removed a text from their book list after realizing the bookstore was charging upwards of $40 for a book that they thought would cost students $17 dollars. The financial burden that many students face for tuition is already very heavy. The cost of textbooks only adds to this burden, and for many students, the exclusively online ordering system implemented this semester has created additional stresses when buying books.   

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