Every quarter thousands of students line up outside the UCSB and I.V. bookstores – and every quarter thousands of students are turned away with the knowledge that they will once again start the quarter behind in the reading.
At this point in my student career, a fifth-year English major taking 24 units, I do not know who to blame – should I blame myself for not having a fixed schedule before the quarter starts? Should I, therefore, have purchased all my books before the quarter started? Or should I rely on the bullshit the bookstores feed me as I constantly wonder when books will arrive?
I am at a total loss for words.
When asked how the bookstore gauges how to purchase books, the bookstore’s response was, “We look at how many people enrolled last year, or quarter, or we see how many books are returned.” Why not purchase enough books for people in a class – how’s that for a novel idea? If a class, like a senior seminar, has space for 19 people, order 19 books. If a class has space for 38 people, order 38 books. I am constantly amazed that for a class of 38, often the bookstore will order only 15 books, less than half the total number of students to enrolled. And as I am sure this has happened to many, we are forced to wait and wait for the bookstore to receive more copies. Waiting is the key word here because often they do not have any real clue as to when they will receive more or how many they ordered. I have several times been told, typically on the second day of classes, to come back on Friday, oops, come back on Monday, oops, come back on Wednesday, oops we sold out.
I would like to take this time to say that I understand the objection to my argument – that the publishers perhaps do not take returns and the university is thus stuck with the bill; however, once again we see the genius of the great state of California’s non-commitment to education: punish the schools, punish the student. Not only are students being forced to overpay to live in I.V. or Santa Barbara, but we are also being gouged and bullied into spending upwards of $500 on books. Furthermore, selling them back sometimes only yields a total, yes I said total, of $75, while the bookstore turns around and bullies another student for three times the profit.
Finally, I would like to say that in no way do I direct my anger toward the students working in the bookstores, only the companies and the universities that punish us in our quest for knowledge. As students we need to change this system. Why should we be punished for the ineptitude of bookstores and publishers? And more importantly, please for the sake of the student, please, bookstores, get a new system for buying and selling books.
Justin L. Smith is a fifth-year English major.