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Wednesday, January 26, 2000
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E-mail concerns Minn. faculty

Cougar News Services

An e-mail message asking University of Minnesota faculty members to promote the Internet textbook retailer Varsitybooks.com has left some professors concerned.

The Jan. 16 message, which was sent from a student e-mail account, promised faculty members kickbacks if they would allow Varsitybooks.com representatives to come into their classrooms and advertise the bookseller.

"The concern on the part of the faculty was that some might inadvertently pick up this deal ... and start getting kickbacks, which could be a real ethical and legal problem," Gary Engstrand, coordinator for the University Senate, told the UM student newspaper.

But some faculty members said they were concerned not by the possibility of kickbacks, but because professors don't receive a set profit from sales of their books online.

Fred Morrison, chairman of the UM Faculty Consultative Committee, said reminding faculty of that fact may be the way to keep them from advertising online book services.

"We can't keep (the online retailer) from supplying to kids," Morrison said, "but we can tell faculty members that they won't receive anything from the books that kids buy."

In November, Varsitybooks.com was sued by the National Association of College Stores, a coalition of college bookstores, which alleged the online company's claims of selling books at 40 percent below the "suggested price" is false.
 

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