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Instructors experience textbook order woes


By Lisa Rich
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 9, 2004
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Some faculty members say UofA Bookstore won't order additional books

With the fall semester in full swing, some instructors still don't have the necessary books for their classes.

Some faculty members have said the UofA Bookstore is refusing to allow them to order additional textbooks, but bookstore officials say that is not true.

English professor Frederick Kiefer said he went to the bookstore two weeks ago to order 12 additional texts for newly enrolled students in his Renaissance Drama class.

Kiefer said a textbook customer service clerk told him he could no longer order texts, and that his students would have to come in individually to special-order the additional material.

Kiefer said when he asked the clerk why, he was given no explanation and was told students had to come in and order the books themselves.

He did not recall the name of the employee who denied his order request.

Kiefer said he was concerned with students having to specially order their texts because, "students won't want to be bothered, it's just one more hassle to put up with."

Since then, he has given his students two additional options, suggesting they purchase the books from Internet sources, like amazon.com, or make copies of the renaissance plays from the library anthologies with the title and call number.

"It struck me as very odd ... I am disappointed to learn the bookstore had a policy that the faculty didn't know about," Kiefer said.

However, UofA Bookstore director, Frank Farias said no such policy is in effect and the accusations are "inaccurate and irresponsible."

Farias said the only policy regarding book orders was to have all required order-requests for the fall 2004 semester sent to the bookstore by March 17.

Farias admitted a problem could arise when additional students enroll in a class, or when professors are assigned to classes after the March deadline, but said that would only result in texts arriving later or being sold at a higher price.

"After July 1, publishers increase prices," said Cynthia Hawk, assistant director of the UofA Bookstore.

Hawk said that increase is due to a national competition among institutions also trying to order the same books.

English professor Roger Bowen also went to the bookstore to order additional material for newly enrolled students in his Modern British Literature class, and said he was told by textbook customer service that it "was not necessary."

Bowen said the clerk told him that most of the books on his required list could be purchased at Barnes & Noble, and the bookstore did not need to order additional textbooks. Bowen was also unaware of the name of the employee who denied his request.

"The whole point of a college bookstore is that students have one place to go and it's convenient," said Bowen, who expressed concern over his students having to search around the city to find stores that carried the required books.

Bowen said he didn't remember any policy such as this being implemented before, and said the bookstore seemed to be following different guidelines this year.

Hawk and Farias denied any policy against ordering textbooks.

"Our purpose is to serve the students and faculty. We always try and put students first," Farias said.

Farias said it was possible for a faculty member to have ordered a textbook late, and instead of admitting to their error, blamed the bookstore.

In such cases, the book may not always be available due to lack of stock the publishers or used book wholesalers have.

"It's like a race. If you start late, obviously you're not going to be the first to get the book. The reality of it is, stock is not always available," Farias said.

Textbooks can also be ordered through the bookstore Web site until Wednesday.

The Web site reads, "We ship items within one or two business days after receipt of your paid order is placed by using one of these methods: secure online ordering (encrypted order forms)," or by telephone or fax.

Susan White, a professor in the English department, said, "I ordered the books on the textbook Web site over the summer and they lost my order."

White said when she called to find out about the order, the bookstore admitted to losing it.

However, White said she ordered her books late, and understands the huge effort the bookstore goes through with professors who send in late requests.

In response to accusations of bookstore personnel refusing to order additional textbooks, Farias said that if there were any truth behind it, with proper information he would "take care of it personally."

This cannot be done unless the names of those responsible for denying order requests are known, Farias added.



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