Amid complications and confusion due to the coronavirus pandemic, several students are facing late fees and backlogs at the Yale Bookstore.

When students were barred from campus last spring as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many were unable to bring books home with them. At the time, the University promised to either ship belongings to students’ homes or deliver possessions upon Yalies’ return to campus. However, as delays have prevented some students from being reunited with their possessions, the bookstore is demanding rented books back. Despite the fact that students do not have the ability to make returns, the bookstore has charged late fees.

“There isn’t any way for me to get the books and return them,” said Saket Malhotra 23, who is enrolled remotely from his home in Arizona and whose books are still in campus storage. “It was a very confusing process, and I was pretty surprised when they charged me. It was like $50, $60 total for the four books. […] There just was not any way for me to go back to campus and pack up my things myself.”

Other students said they have struggled with similar issues. Clayton Land ’22 expressed his frustration with the bookstore’s current policy. He took to Twitter on Tuesday to write that he “thought [the bookstore] would understand that we were literally barred from campus and couldn’t get our books.”

Representatives from both the Yale Bookstore and the Barnes & Noble corporate office did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Land said that his dealings with the bookstore felt like “a battle.” While the bookstore waived his late fees, they told him that he was still required to pay for the two books that Yale had lost while packing his things.

“They said I could file a claim and they’d reimburse me,” Land told the News. “But apparently they would need the receipt from when I bought the books — which I did have but Yale probably threw those away when they were packing. And if I want a receipt from the bookstore to file that claim, I have to bring in my bank statement from when I bought it.”

Meanwhile, some students are also dealing with backlogs on their textbook orders. Judah Millen 24 said that a few of the books he ordered for Directed Studies were unavailable when he went to the bookstore to pick them up.

Alex Mirrer 24, another Directed Studies student, was also told that her books were on backorder. The bookstore informed her that “they were late ordering the books for DS this year because of the uncertainty surrounding COVID.”

Those still waiting for their books to arrive have an available alternative. The Yale University Library is expanding access to materials and running workshops on how to optimize their services remotely.

The Yale Bookstore opened in its current location in 1997.

Jordan Fitzgerald edits for WKND and writes about admissions, financial aid & alumni. She is a junior in Trumbull College majoring in American history.
Isabelle Qian covers Yale's graduate and professional schools. She is a sophomore in Pierson College and comes from Seattle, WA.