Bookstore staff addresses shortages

Chris Dittrick

Obtaining textbooks has become a more difficult venture than normal with the start of classes, according to some students. Yet, according to Paul Wright, assistant manager of the NMU Bookstore, the shortages are no more severe than any other year.

“I was looking at the sales history for previous year,” Wright said. “And although the shortages are not really for the same books or even departments, there doesn’t seem to be any trend toward an increase of the problem.”

There are many reasons why some shelves of the bookstore have been empty this week. According to Wright, books sometimes get lost in shipping and more often than not are simply ordered too late to arrive for the start of the semester.

“About 20 percent of the orders for class textbooks are placed in August,” Wright said. “They should be ordered in April and November. That would give us time to buy back books from students and be able to know far enough in advance to be able to have enough books available.”

However, according to Wright, it’s not fair to lay the blame solely on the professors. For example, when classes get canceled or books get assigned to the wrong section of the class, it takes time to sort out the problems.

“The problem could be solved right this minute,” Wright said. “We could just order all new books straight from the publisher and have every book needed in quantity, but the cost would be so high, it just wouldn’t be fair to students.

“We work hard to keep prices low by offering as many used books as we can obtain. Last year, we had 68 percent of our textbooks available as cost effective used books. This year, we may have an even higher percentage.”

According to Wright, the NMU Bookstore has been running ads that challenge students to compare prices of books from online booksellers with the prices of on-campus bookstores.

“The easiest way for us to make sure a student can get their textbooks as needed is for them to make a special order with us,” Wright said. “There’s no commitment to purchase the book and it gives us a better idea of how many students are waiting for textbooks.”Though for many students, special ordering may seem like a reason for yet another long line at the bookstore.

“It’s frustrating,” Ben Schiavo, a freshman sociology major, said. “The lines are long and it’s hard to get in to do anything.”According to Cory Johnson,  a bookstore sales clerk, students being upset over unavailable textbooks is common.

“Students get the wrong impression of the situation in thinking that the issue is completely on our end,” Johnson said. “Books that are ordered late by teachers need time to be delivered to us. It’s not fair that we have to take all of the blame, but we take the complaints with a grain of salt.”

That being said, Johnson said little has changed in the way the bookstore is stocked every semester.“There has been no change in the way the books are being stocked, sold or distributed for pre-orders,” Johnson said. “The books that are pulled for a pre-order are correct at the time they are put together.

“If there is a change in what is needed for the class, the book can be incorrect and should be exchanged.”Exchanges or special ordering for textbooks can be accomplished at the textbook services desk located in the back of the NMU bookstore.