Summer textbook deadline approaches

University Bookstore doesn't track professors who turn in late requests.
The deadlines are approaching for professors to request summer and fall textbooks. When professors meet their deadlines, students pay less for books, but University Bookstore does not track which professors are late.

Students save money when professors turn in their textbook adoptions by the deadline, but not all professors are doing that.

Although there's no way to track the individual professors who are late, Student and Auxiliary Services spokeswoman Michelle Froese said 85 percent of textbook adoptions were turned in before Oct. 30, the deadline for spring semester 2010. That's a large increase from previous years; in fall 2008, 39 percent of adoptions were received by the spring semester deadline, and the year before, 28 percent of adoptions were received by the deadline.

Early adoptions mean more money for students who participate in the bookstore's textbook buyback at the end of the semester. Froese said students get more money for books that have already been adopted for the following semester. When the bookstore receives textbook adoptions during the buyback period, it can lead to a discrepancy in buyback prices from day to day.

"One of the awful things that happens is the first week of buyback, a student sells his book back and gets hardly anything, and the second week a buddy gets a lot more," Froese said.

The bookstore reviews past sales to predict how many books it will purchase in buyback. The extra books are ordered from one of eight wholesale companies.

"We would rather pay students for used books than a wholesale book company," Froese said. "It's better for everybody when we buy back on campus. Students get more money, and we don't have to pay for shipping."

Froese said the bookstore competes with other universities to order used books from wholesalers. When professors turn in their textbook adoptions late, there are fewer used books available for the bookstore to order.

Some students who purchase books at the beginning of the semester find the bookstore has run out of used books, requiring them to buy more expensive new books.

Sophomore Jordan Kulage said he shops at the bookstore because it is more reliable and has an easier return process than online booksellers. He said the bookstore often runs out of used books by the time he goes to purchase them during the first week of the semester.

Kulage said the bookstore was completely sold out of a book he needed for a sociology class.

"The bookstore didn't order enough at all," he said. "It was aggravating. I ended up going to the library."

Froese said Chancellor Brady Deaton has sent out an e-mail for the past three semesters asking faculty to turn their textbook orders in on time. Many academic departments also send out e-mail reminders to faculty members.

The bookstore does not keep track of when individual professors submit their orders. Froese said it would be a very labor-intensive process for bookstore staff.

"Our goal is not to single out professors but to promote overall submission of textbook adoptions," she said.

Bookstore staff monitors the Office of the Registrar's Web site on the day textbook requisitions are due. They then subtract the number of classes for which the bookstore doesn't carry books and check the number of requisitions submitted to figure the percentage of faculty who are on time.

Although Froese said the bookstore staff can't track professors, their names are required when they submit textbook requests.

Missouri Students Association President Tim Noce said MSA is working on a sustainable, continuous way to get the word out to professors. Noce said he discussed the issue with the Faculty Council. The council recommended students have one-on-one talks with their professors.

Faculty Council Vice Chairman Bill Wiebold said Faculty Council makes announcements encouraging faculty to turn in orders in time.

"There's not a whole lot we can do, but we encourage it," he said.

Froese said it is helpful for students to ask their professors if they have turned in orders.

"It's important that students ask these questions in a respectful manner and at the right time, which is not in the middle of class," Froese said. "Many faculty do not realize how important buyback is to students. They don't always make the connection that reusing a textbook and getting that order in by the deadline can increase the amount of cash paid to students."

The deadline for textbook adoptions for summer 2010 is March 31. The deadline for fall 2010 is April 15.

"We need to get professors to realize the importance of this," Noce said. "Since professors don't interact with the bookstore as much as students do, students themselves are most influential."

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