Thursday, February 28, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 103


Forum addresses bookstore issues

By Kristin Buchanan
Daily Cougar Staff

Students have four major issues with the Barnes and Noble-owned on-campus bookstore: the high cost of books, the used book policy,
books not being available all semester and books not being available on the first day of class, UH alumnus Scott Parkin said.

Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar

Executive Director of Procurement and Auxiliary Services Joanna Truitt answers students' questions during a book symposium
Wednesday night.

"We feel like prices are too high and students are also getting bad service," he said Wednesday night in a bookstore forum at the
Social Work Building.

The forum, sponsored by the Global Democracy Forum and the Free Speech Coalition, addressed student issues. Parkin said they
spent several months researching the Barnes and Noble contract, statistics and budgeting.

The forum organizer's report on bookstore revenue distribution stated the bookstore brought in $12.2 million in the last fiscal year.

"The bottom line is that I want to be able to say the $12 million was worth it," said Josh Paige, a junior political science major sent by
the Student Government Association to represent students in the forum.

"The average student transaction is $350," Barnes and Noble University Bookstore Manager Liza Hays said.

"This is a working-class school," Parkin said. "They can afford the books at (the University of Texas). At UH, it's a struggle."

Despite complaints about costs, Joanna Truitt, the executive director for procurement and auxiliary services, said UH needs to focus its
resources on academics.

In a report on bookstore commission distribution based on estimated annual revenue of $1.45 million, the bookstore claimed to spend
$1.1 million on scholarships.

"It gets back to that $1.1 million in scholarships," Truitt said. "If you take that away the cost of the book is moot. To lower every student's
cost of books by 2 percent, that $1.1 million goes away."

Another concern with the bookstore is buybacks. The bookstore sets a number of textbooks it will buy back at 50 percent, Hays said.
After it reaches its quota, it buys the books back for wholesale price.

"We make more money off of used textbooks," Hays said.

From the audience, associate history professor Bob Buzzanco was one of the first to state his opinion. Buzzanco was present at a
protest of the bookstore in late January.

"The biggest reason for inflation is buybacks," Buzzanco said.

As Buzzanco angrily accused Barnes and Noble of "screwing students over," Hays looked down and fidgeted with her clothes.

"The publishers and Barnes and Noble are trying to stay one step ahead of each other and students are paying," Buzzanco said.

Not every problem the student body has, the Barnes and Noble managers claimed, is the bookstore's fault. This, Hays said, is the case
with textbook availability.

Book orders placed by faculty aren't always timely.

"It's crucial that the orders are placed well in advance," said Mary McFather, manager of the University Bookstore. "Professors have to
ask for the fall textbooks in the spring."

Buzzanco replied, "You don't need a book order to know that organic chemistry is taught every semester."

The university bookstore boycotts will continue, organizers said.

"Barnes and Nobles is a monopoly," Buzzanco said. "They're out to protect their business interests, not the students. The students
should count."

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