Surplus of Packages Related to Lack of Bookstore Sales
Andrew Miller, Tower Staff
September 7, 2012
Filed under News
The packaging room was temporarily relocated to Father O’Connell Hall last week due to a surplus of packages being sent to Catholic University students.
“We moved the packages out of necessity even though it may be less convenient,” explained Tommie Roberson, the assistant manager of packages.
Previously, the vacant classrooms surrounding the package office in McMahon were used as extra space when needed. However, the Office of Admissions recently expanded their office space to encompass the surrounding rooms, and the packaging office had to shift their operations, at least for the beginning of the semester.
As many as 2,000 packages per day are coming into CUA’s campus and many of the packages are from online bookstores such as Amazon.com or textbook seller Chegg. Although the distribution office does not keep records on amounts of packages, they have found that more shipments are coming in from booksellers than they have seen in the past.
Less expensive online book prices have slowed the sales of the campus bookstore.
“It really depends on the price for me,” said Shelby Kestler, class of 2016. “Most books just cost less online.”
Tammy Rogers, the bookstore manager, discussed the decline in the campus bookstore industry. Out of the total enrollment in CUA’s classes, only around 50% of students are buying their materials from the bookstore.
With prices for used books online often well below the bookstore’s selling price, and even new books having a net price after shipping that is less expensive, more and more students have decided to buy their books off campus and often online.
For example, the bookstore charges $71.00 for the English book Norton Anthology of Poetry by Mary Jo Salter, while Amazon.com charges $46.99 for the same book. Additionally, the bookstore charges $175.75 for the economics book Macroeconomics in Modules by Paul Krugman, while Amazon.com only charges $36.62.
For some, however, the bookstore remains the better method for textbook shopping.
“It’s more convenient to go to the bookstore because they’ll have the right edition that you are looking for,” said Meredith O’Connell. “Also the exchange process is easier in case there are any mistakes.”
Still, many students choose to share books with fellow classmates or check out copies at the library. Rogers seemed worried that “with each of these scenarios, students may not have 24/7 access to their materials.”
But some instructors, such as Rev. James Brent, professor of philosophy, support the sharing of materials that are only to be used for a short period of time. As most college students are somewhat limited fiscally, it only makes sense that they exercise responsibility when purchasing course material.
A more serious claim of the bookstore is that now 15% of students choose to go without the course materials required by their instructor. But the CUA Bookstore, currently run by Follett Higher Education Group, still seems to have higher prices on nearly every textbook available except for those written by CUA professors.
It seems that students often pay an extra price for the added convenience, as the bookstore is a quicker means of getting books and materials.
Being the busiest time of year for packages coming into CUA, Roberson stressed the temporality of the location, promising that the distribution center would return to its regular location within the next couple of weeks. So for the time being, at least at the onset of the academic semesters, CUA students may have to, quite literally, walk the extra mile (or half mile) for their materials, but some say the extra few steps are worth the extra few dollars in their pockets.