Textbook dearth ignites criticism

Students expressed frustration about textbook shortages at the GW Bookstore during the first week of spring semester.

Students unable to purchase required textbooks said the shortage has caused complications with classes.

Freshman Michelle Hodges said she was disappointed with the Bookstore.

I don’t think they keep a sufficient amount of books in stock, Hodges said.

But Hodges said she understands the Bookstore has to deal with an enormous demand for books and that book shortages are sometimes not the Bookstore’s fault.

I think some of it has to do with the publishers, Hodges said. It’s just something that you have to deal with in college.

Complications with publishers are the main reason for textbook shortages, said Steve Duesterhaus, director of the GW Bookstore. Duesterhaus said communication problems between publishers and the University are sometimes unavoidable.

Occasionally there is a book out of print, and we don’t know it, he said.

Requests for new editions of textbooks not yet in print have also kept books off the shelves, Duesterhaus said. The Bookstore has to wait until the publisher prints the new edition and sends it to the Bookstore.

Duesterhaus said other reasons for book shortages include books being sold out and late requests for books by professors.

Sellouts occur when professors underestimate the number of students that will enroll in their classes. He said the Bookstore has to wait until more books come or until returned books are put back on the shelves. Duesterhaus said the Bookstore orders books based on the rate of sales in the past and on the number of books they have in stock.

Economics Professor Ying Lowrey said a book shortage affected her Women in International Leadership Economics class last semester. She said she requested study guides for the class and said the Bookstore did not stock enough for everyone in the class.

It was definitely the Bookstore’s fault, Lowrey said.

She said delays in receiving the study guides slowed the pace of her course because some students had the required materials and others did not.

Duesterhaus said he is aware book shortages are a source of frustration for students and professors and said the Bookstore continually tries to improve communication with professors.

Because of shortages, students often are going online to buy textbooks.

Hodges said she bought books out of stock in the Bookstore from Varsitybooks.com and was impressed with the convenience. She said she plans to buy more of her textbooks online next semester.

Instead of facing the crowds at the Bookstore, I’d rather shop online, Hodges said.

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