Forum addresses bookstore
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
Pin Lim/The Daily Cougar
Executive Director of Procurement
and Auxiliary Services Joanna Truitt answers students' questions during
a book symposium
"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
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
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
$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
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,
After it reaches its quota, it buys the
books back for wholesale price.
"We make more money off of used textbooks,"
From the audience, associate history professor
Bob Buzzanco was one of the first to state his opinion. Buzzanco was present
protest of the bookstore in late January.
"The biggest reason for inflation is buybacks,"
As Buzzanco angrily accused Barnes and
Noble of "screwing students over," Hays looked down and fidgeted with her
"The publishers and Barnes and Noble are
trying to stay one step ahead of each other and students are paying," Buzzanco
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
"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.