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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Students unable to find many books at Brandeis Bookstore

Published: January 26, 2007
Section: News

Recently, more professors and students have been choosing not to purchase their textbooks at the Brandeis University Bookstore, a Barnes and Noble affiliate. Instead, they order books from alternative sources, such as Back Pages Books, an independent bookstore owned by Brandeis alumnus Alex Green. More of my teachers this year didnt even order stuff from the bookstore, said Hannah Edber, 09. Aliye Melton, 09, agreed. For the first time this year, I had a Professor order from Back Pages she stated. Said graduate student Aung Lwin, I only go to the bookstore in an urgent situation.

This increase in patronage of alternative sources is caused in part by dissatisfaction with the Brandeis Bookstore. Students interviewed reported that they had not been able to find the books they needed at the bookstore, even though their professors had ordered them. Im still missing one of the books for one of my classes said Melton. Other students were also unable to find the books they needed at the bookstore. Beth Seltzer, 07, expressed chagrin that the bookstore had changed its policy on returning books to require students to show proof of a dropped class in order to return a book after the first week of classes. That was a major deterrent, she said.

However, alternative sources for books are attracting patronage not only because of the Brandeis University Bookstores alleged shortcomings, but also because of virtues of their own. I order online, said Lwin. Its much cheaper. English Literature professor Susan Lanser explained that she began ordering through Back Pages Books this semester because she had heard that it is more accommodating of students needs. Some also prefer to support small businesses rather than large corporations like Barnes and Noble. Im a big fan of the little independent bookstore, Melton explained. Lanser seconded her statement. I support independent bookstores on principle, she said.

Not everyone is willing to place blame on the Brandeis University Bookstore, however. The issue with the bookstore is that the manager does what all bookstoresdo now, explains Political Science professor Jytte Klausen. The less books on the shelves, the less debt they have to serviceIt isnt really the managers fault. The Brandeis Bookstore manager, Stacey Jackson, is reportedly new to her position as of this academic year. However, it is not clear that there is any correlation between this and problems students have experienced at the bookstore. Brandeis Bookstore management, including Jackson, was not available for comment.

Despite its shortcomings and competition, many students feel that the Brandeis University Bookstore will always have its place in campus life. The bookstore definitely has an advantage, because its on campus, so its more convenient, said Ameeka Pannu 08.