The fall 2013 semester began with back-ordered textbooks at the UTSA Bookstore, which hindered the start of many classes. Students can likely expect similar problems this spring.
Professor Deanna White’s students were some of the many who struggled at the beginning of the semester without the books they needed.
A large number of students requiring the same textbook becomes problematic when their texts are sold exclusively at the bookstore. White said she, “had problems with primarily my Editing textbooks and somewhat the Technical Writing textbooks.” Both classes have smaller enrollment numbers than her Freshman Composition classes.
“The problem is that the bookstore only orders a small percentage of the books needed based on student enrollment. As a result, the bookstore runs out of textbooks,” says White.
Students in White’s Editing class were unable to find workbooks at the bookstore. Assignments from these books are due early in the semester.
“When ordering course materials, we use the most recent enrollment numbers and additional sales history analytics to determine the amount of copies to order. These numbers can fluctuate with the common add/drop class scenarios making it a bit more difficult to gauge final enrollment at the beginning of the semester,” said UTSA Bookstore Manager John Palmer.
In addition to the anxiously awaited shipments of textbooks, the prices at the bookstore prompt some students to buy textbooks elsewhere.
Textbooks for core curriculum classes tend to be $100 or above at the university bookstore.
More and more syllabi provide information about other locations where their students may acquire their textbooks.
Palmer explains that the university bookstore is unable to order materials until faculty submit their book orders.
“Receiving early orders allows the bookstore to source more used copies directly from the campus through our buyback program.
“Our buyback program is driven purely by demand of book usage, so if a book is being used for a subsequent term, the bookstores will pay back 50 percent until the needed quantity is met,” said Palmer.
“Research and Composition in the Disclipines, Second Edition” was requested by a number of Freshman Compostion I professors, including White, and is marked at the UTSA bookstore at $99.75 for a new copy and $75.00 for a used copy. With no option to rent the textbook, students look to websites like Chegg and Amazon to purchase books.
Bigwords.com is a website that allows users to compare prices for textbooks across multiple sources including Chegg and Amazon. While Campusbookrentals.com is similar, Bigwords.com finds the cheaper alternative even if the difference is only a dollar.
With the help of Bigwords.com, Freshman Composition students could find that abebooks.com sells Research and Compositions at $9.36 including shipping costs.
With the start of the spring semester, an e-mail from the UTSA Bookstore sent on Jan. 7 informing students that they may not receiving their textbooks on time due to weather conditions.
However, Palmer stated that the “majority of our textbook shipments arrived prior to the extreme weather, so we did not experience any significant delays.”