Bookstore innovation causes frustration

Students waited in line for an average of one to two hours to purchase textbooks after a new sales system caused massive delays. In a textbook case of good intentions gone astray, AC became the first college in the nation to use this new system. Bookstore officials say they won’t use it again.

By RAZ RASMUSSEN, Ranger Reporter:

Once upon a time, Amarillo College students went to buy their textbooks. Little did they know, their fairytale idea of a perfect beginning would begin to feel all too much like the story of Rip Van Winkle. Students lined up to experience a new system for purchasing textbooks at the AC bookstore only to exit feeling as if the entire semester had already passed.

Many students said it took one to two hours to get their numbers on a list, and then they had to make multiple trips back to the bookstore to get the actual books.

Now, in response to the failure of this new system,  bookstore staff are trying to find a way to make this process smoother in the future,  said Dennis Leslie, AC bookstore manager.

The bookstore will not use the failed system again next semester, according to Leslie. He plans to meet with his staff “to re-evaluate and try to figure out what we want to do for spring.”

Throughout the first week of the semester, students grumbled and muttered four-letter words as they exited the bookstore. “Honestly, I don’t like it. It just doesn’t work. They say your books are ready and you go up there, and they’re not. It’s not right,” Joseph Lundegreen, a physics major, said.

Brittany Cox, a sonography major, said her experience shopping at the AC bookstore “was very time-consuming. The ladies were extremely nice but took a lot out of my day.”

“I believe the old way is better,” James Black, a fine arts major, said. “My classmate ordered her books and they said she would get a text, but when she got the text, the store was already closed.”

Stacey Long, a fine arts major, also experienced problems. “I like that there is online ordering, but it seems to be causing a lot of issues. I ordered books I needed but didn’t have them in time. So I waited in line for an hour and a half, and my online order ended up being canceled,” said Long.

The new software used by the college to distribute books was from a company that does the same sort of thing for airports. Travelers register online, get a number and that’s the seat they will have on the plane, or in this case, their place in line. The difference was that no one has ever used this software on such a large input group -– namely 14,000.

“We were the first college in the United States to try it, and the first to fail at it,” said Leslie. “I regret the long, long hours and the frustrations that it caused students, but I don’t regret having tried something new. If you don’t try then you’ll never know. It’s not like we all of a sudden decided to do it – we have been planning and working on it since April. But the volume just killed us.”

Other factors that added to the huge influx of book buyers and long waits were enrollment going up and various last-minute changes being made to textbook adoptions.

Another major issue was the closing of the West Campus bookstore June 15, which brought an additional 1,500 students to the Washington Street bookstore. Leslie said he also failed to take into account the release of financial aid all at the same time, complicated by the simultaneous return of the students who had already obtained their numbers.

Leslie said he never meant to cause an inconvenience.

“Our intentions were really good. We didn’t do that to make everyone miserable, because that made us miserable. We understand the frustration, and we’ll continue looking at things we can do to make it easier to get textbooks,” Leslie said.

Despite the delays, students eventually got their books and many professors gave students extra time on assignments.

Some students managed to bypass the bookstore backlog. Addison Glazner, a graphic design major, said, “I actually had FedEx ship the books to my house. It was pretty good. It looked like the lines at the bookstore were really bad.”

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