Bookstore Blues

by The Cowl Editor on February 2, 2017


Photo courtesy of the odysseyonline.comby Sarah Kelley ’18

Opinion Staff

As the Friars enter their third week of classes, syllabus week seems like a distant memory. The workload is starting to build up and many students find themselves tackling the semester’s assignments, from long readings to problem sets and everything in between. Yet the most obvious necessity for any student here at Providence College—and arguably one of the most important resources for any major or class—seems to be more difficult to attain than in past semesters on campus: books.

From my own personal experience, I waited over two weeks until I finally received a confirmation email from the bookstore to collect my missing textbooks. I visited the bookstore multiple times within the first two weeks of classes, asking multiple staff members if there was any way to see if the books had been shipped, were being processed, or were in the bookstore. I was answered in the negative to all of the above questions and no one could provide any estimate of when the books would arrive. And while I continued to receive emails reminding me my books were still on back order, there were no other forms of communication regarding any updates of the textbooks.

I first wondered if I simply had bad luck this semester, but after talking to other students, the lack of communication and timeliness of the PC bookstore seems to be more widespread than before. Many students this semester have been unable to get their textbooks from the PC bookstore in a timely manner. Many books are on backorder, some were not ordered in advance for many classes, and others seem to fall somewhere in between—in the process of being “processed” yet still not available. Some students (myself included) have even discovered that the majority of their order was already available at the store, but still did not receive an email confirmation to get those available books because some part of their order was still on backorder.

Countless students have been left in an academic limbo, waiting for a confirmation email from the bookstore, with workloads and reading assignments piling up and no sense of when their books will be arriving. Brian Cain ’18 commented on his experience with the bookstore this semester, stating, “…I ordered my books a few days before coming back to school, so it’s expected that the order wasn’t ready. But after the first week of classes, I realized I could go in and just collect my books myself and they had all but one of the books I ordered anyway. I don’t know how my order wasn’t ready if the majority of the books were there.”

Maggie Branham ’18 also commented on her troubles with the bookstore this semester, explaining, “I ended up just having to order some of my books from Amazon this semester because the bookstore did not have them ready. In one of my classes my professor is handing out photo copies because neither the bookstore nor the library has the books available.” After countless trips to the PC bookstore in the last few weeks, it seems as though there are a number of factors beyond the bookstore’s control contributing to the difficulties many students are facing in getting their book this semester.

Last week’s lines for the bookstore were out the door, and bookstore workers have seemed overwhelmed and understaffed while helping students locate their orders and find books. While some may say the bookstore needs to step up its game to meet the needs of students, the predicament many faced this semester in getting their books should not be solely attributed to the bookstore itself. Cain also commented, “Honestly I feel bad for them because they are seriously understaffed and at the liberty of the book distributors and mail service…to the claim that they [the bookstore] should just order as many books as there are students in each class, that’s not as simple as it sounds because books are so expensive (even for the bookstore) that if they over order and can’t sell the books this semester, they become useless next year and a huge loss for the bookstore.”

While perhaps the store cannot be entirely at fault for many students’ backordered books this semester, many students are still left without their main texts, wondering when they will come, with little to no information to keep themselves updated.