New textbook purchasing system instituted smoothly

Since the implementation of the College’s new textbook purchasing policy at Water Street Books on Jan. 30, 1316 students have used the new card-swipe system and have purchased a total of over 13,000 textbooks as of Feb. 7. Though there has been some confusion on the part of students and faculty regarding the financial aid and logistical implications of the system, no major procedural problems have cropped up in the textbook-purchase process at Water Street Books so far, “surpassing the College’s expectations,” according to Paul Boyer, director of Financial Aid.

Richard Simpson, senior store manager of Water Street Books, estimated that 95 percent of the students who bought textbooks this semester at Water Street Books so far used the card-swipe system. “[The] response from students has been overwhelmingly positive,” Simpson said. “The new system is much faster than the old voucher system … it [markedly] speeds up the customer transaction.”

Of the 1316 students who have purchased their textbooks through the card-swipe system, 972 were students receiving financial aid, indicating that about 93 percent of the students on aid who are on campus for the spring semester have already purchased their textbooks.

According to Boyer and Simpson, the few minor problems that have arisen have stemmed primarily from confusion on the part of students about how exactly the system works; common questions have been about the total cost of books that financial aid will cover, whether the financial aid grant applies to textbooks recommended in addition to those required for a course and the number of courses for which textbooks may be charged to a student’s card.

“A few problems [also seemed] to stem from miscommunication or poor communication between faculty and Water Street Books,” Boyer added, explaining that some faculty had chosen to use out of print books, had changed syllabi at the last minute or had refused to order textbooks from Water Street Books.

“We are dealing with exceptions on a daily basis with the goal to get books in the hands of students as quickly as possible,” Boyer explained. “[However,] up to this point, the process is going quite well. The bookstore’s transition to the new system has been great overall.”

Some students have also voiced approval of the new system. “I used to pay for my textbooks with a credit card, so it took a while. [This time], there were about five or six people in front of me in line, and because they used their cards, it really speeded up the process,” Alexander Rubin ’10 said. “I definitely think it’s more convenient overall.”