As spring term begins, students are once again heading to the basement of Memorial Hall to purchase books from the temporary bookstore in the old Underground Coffeehouse, operated by Follet Higher Education Group. Many students and professors have expressed frustration with their experiences at this temporary bookstore. While we understand that the university needed an interim textbook provider after Conkey’s Bookstore closed in the summer of 2009, we believe that the administration should work toward establishing a permanent on-campus bookstore.
Follet’s buyback procedure at the end of each term presents unnecessary problems for students who want to get rid of unneeded textbooks. The store will not buy back textbooks which they already have enough copies of, or books for classes which will not immediately be offered the next term.
Follet has often ordered incorrect editions of textbooks. They have also stocked hardcover books when professors specifically ordered paperback — which are much cheaper. Numerous professors have urged students to buy their books from online textbook providers, which offer lower prices than Follett. Follett has also proved unable to stock certain small press and foreign language textbooks.
We acknowledge that no textbook store or provider will fit the Lawrence community’s needs perfectly, but Follet has consistently demonstrated a lack of understanding of the needs of both students and faculty. Although Follett was intended as a temporary bookstore, it has operated on campus for nearly two years. There seem to be no plans in place for establishing a permanent campus bookstore that better fits the needs of students and faculty.
We encourage Lawrence administrators to make plans for establishing a permanent, on-campus bookstore that offers consistent hours throughout the term. A permanent bookstore could also provide opportunities for student employment. We hope that the administration will consider these issues when planning for a permanent bookstore in the future.