Thursday, January 07, 2010

Me and My University Bookstore

Usually, I've had a perfectly functional relationship with my university bookstore. I porder my textbooks, usually on time, or very close, occasionally make a tweak or two to the booklist, and generally, the stuff is there when the semester begins.

This semester has been one message after another from the textbook coordinator, and while some of them have not been her fault, I have nonetheless am now moved to ire everytime I see her name in my inbox.

First: a major book for my grad class (admittedly over 20 years old from a smallish press) is out of print. Somehow, my department was able to get me a desk copy which I can now put on reserve, but the bookstore couldn't get it, or do anything for me. OK, fine. Monographs go out of print all the time. I can deal.

Then: A single edition play is on backorder. nevermind that it's the New Mermaids edition of The Spanish Tragedy, a text taught often enough that these contingencies should be accounted for. But. Both Amazon and another major online outlet that bears the name of the smae corporate entity that owns our campus store listed the text ass in stock and able to ship within days. And yet the textbook department couldn't lay their hands on 9 copies. Grrr.

And today: the anthology I'm using for my survey course has just gone into a new edition. Longman does this fairly often, enough to irk me, since everytime they change something, I lose things I wanted to teach without getting new ones about which I'm equally enthusiastic. I lost Caryl Churchill's Cloud 9 four years ago, and have nothing of its functional equivalent in either the previous or the brand-new edition. So I ordered the old edition, thinking that surely there'd be enough copies floating around on the used market to supply my class. No dice. The bookstore has informed me that they can only procure 8 copies for my class of 40, and I've pretty much got to go to the new edition if I want the texts available by day 1. Of course, Longman has "conveniently" moved several texts to an online resource which is a pain-in-the-ass to access for me, let alone my students and has again gotten rid of a few things that I had been planning to teach. This is particularly irksome since I taught the same course last fall, and was really hoping to use the same syllabus two semesters in a row (heaven forfend!).

So now, classes start next week, public schools have been out of session 2 1/2 out of the last 4 days, and are likely out again tomorrow, and goddamn it, I've got to scramble to reconfigure my survey syllabus. Longman reps, if you're out there, I will not be adopting your anthology anymore. You revise it too damn often and cause me too much inconvenience.


Sisyphus said...

could you do one of those "make your own packets" places that always advertise at the MLA?

Laura said...

Having similar issues myself. Looked under my course, which starts Monday, and the book isn't listed. Under my account, it shows I ordered it, but students who might be looking for it won't find it. Sigh. There's an electronic version, which would be fine, but I can't figure out how to order that. Ugh.