Friday, June 6, 2014

Student mail with a twist. The books for all my other classes came a week ago. and...

Student email:
Hi. I ordered my books as soon as they were posted to your blackboard course. The bookstore sent me an email saying the books for 502 & 525 were in and the books for 503 were "on there way to us now". That was a week ago, but they still haven't arrived. I checked every public (thankfully they are linked by a single online catalog) and college library in the county as well as the more cosmopolitan county to the west, and none have these books. I have sent three emails to the bookstore and have gotten no reply. I am already 100 pages behind and I see my classmates have obtained books because there are already 15 entries to the course discussion board, which only opened yesterday....

Wombat of the Copier

This sounds like flakemail, right? That's why I can't send it but it's true. Where the fuck did my classmates get their god damned books? It sure as fuck wasn't the bookstore. Or does the bookstore just under-order? What the fuck do they do in the god damned bookstore? If they aren't selling used lab manuals, they're just selling the wrong books, or they don't order enough, or they order the latest edition even though you highlighted the part on the form where you specified you wanted to stick with the previous. I fucking hate them, and now that I'm back in school myself I fucking hate them on a whole new level.


  1. That sounds like the bookstore at the institution where I used to teach.

    That outfit was a complete shambles. I had two textbook orders bungled because I'm sure the purchasing agent was incompetent. For one, I found out that the title I ordered was out of print--days before the course was about to start. Photocopying permission was quickly obtained but I had to sacrifice my copy for it. That in itself was bad enough, but the order had been placed *6 months* earlier.

    The second time, she "forgot" to order the book, again after I submitted my requisition several months beforehand. If I hadn't checked during exam week the previous term, I wouldn't have known the books were missing until the students started complaining. I spent the first 3 weeks of the course with no textbooks and, as a result, the course became a train wreck. During the first lectures, I told my students to buy the book from wherever they could find it: second-hand outlets, Internet websites, and so on. I wanted them to teach the bookstore a lesson.

    But the whole bookstore was run that way. For a few years, there was one employee who seemed like the only one who not only knew what was going on but also how to do her job. Whenever I had problems in finding things there, she was the one I contacted. She always got back to me with an answer and, if she didn't know, she would do her best to find out. Unfortunately, she quit and my headaches with the bookstore increased.

    But, if one wanted to buy kitschy campus crap, sports tickets, or a copy of the latest potboiler paperback, the bookstore had it all over the place.

  2. Our bookstore purposely only orders 60% of what we order if it's a new class. So if we ask them to order 100 books, they order 60. They think that 40% will buy the book elsewhere, even when we tell the bookstore personnel that this is a special book that can only come from the publisher.

    Moreover, for repeat courses, they only order however many they sold the last time the course was taught. So if only 12 people were in the book and all 12 bought the book last year, but this year, I have 28 in the class, they only order 12. Our bookstore is run by a lovely national conglomerate known for the & in its name. I've gotten to where I tell my students to just order the book wherever the hell they can get it for cheapest because I know they won't find my books in the bookstore.

    1. "12 people were in the class," not the book! :)

    2. same bookstore, same problem. I tell the students to go to Amazon.

  3. This is what comes of outsourcing essential services to third-party vendors. Since nearly all of the campus bookstores seem to have been outsourced to one particular company (the one Cynic references, which otherwise probably would have folded entirely by now), it also means that you can't head to the bookstore at a u across town (assuming there is one), because it, too, is run by Bungle & Nitwit.

    P.S. Based on sad experience, I wouldn't assume that your classmates' completing the assignment means they actually have the books in hand. Chances are good, especially at the beginning of the semester, that some of them do, but chances are also good that others are faking it, one way or another.

  4. Wombat, that sucks.

    Isn't there an alternative bookstore in your area? There's a chain near us that serves lots of colleges in the region. It orders what the professors want, and most of us use it in addition to the bookstore. (We are required to use the bookstore because some financial aid sources will reimburse students only for books bought there.)

    Have you considered ebooks? You don't need a tablet; you can read them on a laptop or desktop. They have drawbacks, but one big plus is instant access.

    BTW, the Bungle&Nitwit tablet (Noodge) has hardware problems and isn't being supported by the & store any more. The software is okay, though. Meanwhile, the latest edition of Amabezoar Krinkle software runs ads, ads and more ads when you just want to open up your ebook. Calibre does the job well.

  5. It is impossible to predict what our bookstore will do. Some terms/courses they will under-order (sometimes by a lot, like a section's worth of books), other times they order exactly what you ask--and then, invariably, the students will find alternative means of procurement. I try to cut them some slack, since they are wrangling with international shipping, invasive postal policies, etc. Still, because of our language issue (teaching in Hamsterese in a country that speaks Capybaran), the bookstore is highly likely to be the only place in the city to buy their required books. So if they run out of books before demand runs its course, whoever's left gets royally screwed.

    Wombat, good luck back in the trenches! As PG says, online is worth a shot, even if it means you've got nothing to sell back at the end of the term (do U bookstores even buy books back like they used to??)

  6. Thanks, guys. Commiserating always makes it better.

    I finally got someone to give me a straight answer over the phone and was able to get the books about 36 hrs after I scripted this complaint and sent it in to Ben. My professor was a little soft on the first week grading, so the fact that I had to speed read and scribble something down didn't seem to hurt my grade, just my learning experience. I'm off from teaching this summer, just tutoring, so I decided I better do what I tell my students to do, and even though the assignments were done, I re-read the material when I got the chance and "put the learning ahead of the grade and the grade will take care of itself".

    Proffie G - I rent the books - I'm the ultimate cheapskate.

    Also, I'm completely out of my element now. This is social-science-ish*. I keep assuming I won't want the books after I power through the courses, but most of them are interesting. When the money is flowing a little more freely, I'll probably pursue the purchase of some of them, or updated versions, or something similar.

    Oh - and Edna, you hit on something I hadn't considered. One of the missing books was clearly written for and by the British, so I would bet it was in deed more complicated to order that one.

    *The program is "Higher Education Administration". Every class seems to be a split between intro-intermediate level social science, with some administration/business type material. The one that is most fairly described as "social science" is "Student Development", but that is almost straight up psychology, which some people might categorize as "natural" rather than "social" science.