Though students saw shorter lines at the Yale Bookstore this semester than in the fall, many struggled with books selling out just days after the beginning of the term.
The introduction of the textbook rental program in fall 2012 made the bookstore more appealing to many students who used to buy textbooks online to save money, according to store managers. As a result, the store — which sees its largest crowds in the first few weeks of each semester as students rush to buy textbooks for courses they take in shopping period — has seen greater demand in the past two years.
To prepare for the crowd of students this semester, the bookstore hired and trained additional staff members. But the speed and volume of textbook shipments themselves still lagged behind student demand, leaving some students to face sold-out shelves.
Yale Bookstore Store Manager Joseph King said the store was sufficiently staffed for the spring rush, but admitted it was understocked at times.
“The lines weren’t that bad this time,” he said. “But because of the shopping period, people start out buying a lot.”
Students often rent or buy materials for an abundance of classes during shopping week to keep up with all courses, so the true demand for certain course texts is hard to determine. Overall, many Yale students noticed quicker, smaller lines at the register this term than in past years. Linda Oh ’17 said she noticed that buying textbooks and supplies was “a lot less crazy and more streamlined” than in the fall semester.
According to King, some textbooks are brought back to the store within the two-week time frame allotted by the bookstore to its patrons for returns, while others sell out immediately. The bookstore enters a reorder phase as soon as it hears from students about sold-out books.
Yuki Hayashi ’17, who is enrolled in “Biochemistry and Biophysics,” said many other students in the lecture had trouble buying the textbook for the class. The bookstore’s stock was depleted by the end of shopping period — so the store was only offering the e-book version when many went to buy the physical book. The course’s professors tried to address the problem by making scanned readings available online.
“I ordered my bio textbook beforehand on Amazon,” Hayashi said. “But I kept hearing about other people having issues for the first couple of weeks. People only had access to the scanned readings to do homework.”
Some of the increased demand at the bookstore may be attributed to the bookstore’s relatively new rental program, King suggested. The program — which offers students the option to take home textbooks at cheaper prices than the ones listed for new and used books, provided that they give a credit card number for security and return the book at the end of the term — has grown quickly since its institution and become a popular option.
For students looking to save money, the program offers an attractive deal. Olivia Pollak ’16 said that she likes the rental program because it is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
“Future students can rent them after,” Pollak said. “Which is preferable to having them take up space on my bookshelf.”
But, Pollak said, the option to rent could potentially be made even cheaper. According to King, some textbooks at the store may be rented at more of a discount than others, depending on the text in question.
The bookstore has returned to off-peak staffing since the end of shopping period.