Sam Maller | Staff photographerOn the Hill
SU Bookstore remains sole campus textbook provider
At 9:30 a.m. on the first week of classes, the Syracuse University Bookstore is already buzzing with students navigating the aisles. It’s a familiar sight for bookstore employees and students, a sort of tradition repeated semester after semester.
But unlike years past, there are no longer any students making their way to Marshall Square Mall in search of textbooks. Follett’s Orange Bookstore, a longtime textbook supplier for SU students housed in the mall, closed in February.
Though there are numerous other ways to buy, rent and sell textbooks both online and in person, the SU Bookstore is now the only nearby, in-store option for students seeking to buy the textbooks their professors assign each semester.
The bookstore has been adjusting to a slight increase in orders from professors who had chosen to use Follett’s in years past, said Kathleen Bradley, textbook and general division manager at the SU Bookstore.
“It’s been interesting because we certainly didn’t know how many books Follett’s was ordering and using, so there’s been a learning curve for us,” Bradley said. “But it’s been working well.”
Online textbook sellers along with students buying and selling books themselves are the only form of competition for the bookstore that remains in the wake of Follett’s closure. But it has been difficult to judge how sales have been because the store is busy with classes starting, Bradley said.
“I’m thinking they’re going to be alright,” she said. “We’re not so much concerned with sales as much as making sure we’re getting stuff into the students’ hands as soon as possible.”
Bradley also noted she has seen an increase in students placing their book orders online through the SU Bookstore.
The bookstore has the advantage of proximity, as students can pay a visit to the Schine Student Center instead of waiting for their books to be shipped from locations across the country.
For sophomore international relations major Adam Roecks, that proximity was key. He bought all his textbooks from the SU Bookstore this semester, though he said his preferred method is ordering online on websites like Amazon.
“We’re not so much concerned with sales as much as making sure we’re getting stuff into the students’ hands as soon as possible.”
Kathleen Bradley, textbook and general division manager at the SU Bookstore
“I didn’t really have the time to order them because it would take too long and I need them for class,” Roecks said.
Alexandra Hordes, a freshman child and family studies major, also relied on the SU Bookstore for her textbooks. She elected to order them online and have them sent to her dorm room in Day Hall so she wouldn’t have to carry them.
Others, like sophomore Beth Waters, put a little more time into finding better prices. The forensic chemistry major said she joined Facebook groups and posted what she was looking to buy or sell.
The average annual cost for college textbooks per student is $1,260, according to a Jan. 31 news release from the 20 Million Minds Foundation. Bradley said she recognizes the expense at which students buy textbooks.
“The books are expensive. I’m not going to say they’re not,” she said.
Bradley noted the bookstore’s rental and guaranteed buyback options for students. The amount of used books available this year is the largest she has seen in her 26 years at SU.
The bookstore tries to maximize the availability of guaranteed buyback, Bradley said, but late orders from professors often stand in the way of doing so.
“It’s hard. It’s so frustrating when faculty members don’t place their orders early enough before the end-of-semester buyback, and what’ll happen is all the students go home, and they didn’t get what they should have gotten for their books,” Bradley said. “It’s unfair to our students.”
Even more change lies ahead for the SU Bookstore. In July, the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency voted in approval of a 30-year tax exemption for the development of a new bookstore on University Avenue.
The current bookstore in Schine will relocate to the University Avenue location, which will also host a fitness center, Bradley said. Schine structurally cannot support the bookstore on its main level, so the new space will be a better allocation, she said.
Tom Valenti, a developer involved with the project, said he hopes to have the new facility ready by fall 2013, according to a July 9 article in The Post-Standard.
“There was some holdup over the summer,” Bradley said, “But it’ll be a nice opportunity.”
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