With the emergence of internet textbook retailers and local competitors such as Borders and Barnes ‘ Noble, Fairfield’s bookstore is constantly trying to invent new ways to keep students shopping on campus.

Regardless of these promotions of colorful displays, discounts or surveys, some students simply say they cannot afford the prices.

“I dropped over $700 in only one semester,” says Elizabeth Mangione ’06. “One book alone was about $80. It’s just getting unreasonable.”

Bookstore manager Barbara Farrell and her staff are making an effort to provide students with affordable used books. Last semester, used books were ordered from three different sources, but a few of the texts arrived in damaged, unusable condition and had to be returned, she said.

Bad weather, late shipments by providers, late order by professors, damages during shipping and availability of books from publishers all potentially effect the timely arrival of books and their condition.

To combat student dismay, surveys are frequently distributed to students to gather feedback and improve the store.

“We want to serve you, we consider us as your bookstore and we put a lot of money into the survey so we can listen and hear what you say about problems,” said Farrell.

However, some students feel their voices and concerns are not being heard.

“It seems that the bookstore’s main purpose is to make buying and selling books easy on students, but it’s nothing of the sort,” says Melissa Hunt ’06. “Obviously the bookstore can’t control the fact that some classes change books, so we’re stuck keeping that $100 biology book, but at the same time, why do those people who keep their books in incredible condition get the same amount of money back as those who basically scribble all over the book and rip all the pages? It seems a little unfair.”

The return policy of the bookstore, which allows about a week from the first day of classes for students to get a full refund on any textbooks, is simply inadequate, many students say.

“I dropped a class a little after two weeks from the start of the semester. My books were never used, but I still had trouble returning them,” said Mangione.

Farrell says the store tries to be flexible with returns and examines them on a case by case basis. Often, with a receipt and signed drop slip, students can receive a full refund.

Nevertheless, many students are turning to internet retailers and bypassing the bookstore entirely.

“I order online because it’s a whole lot cheaper,” said Mimi Vo ’05. “I compare the prices and sometimes I save $50 to $65 on a book. I even bought a book for 50 cents, and it was in good condition.”

Other students are sticking with the bookstore, some out of necessity but others strictly for the convenience of having the store only a few buildings away.

“As a business student, my texts are constantly updated every year, and therefore I hardly get to buy used books,” says Katie O’Neill ’06. “It’s just easier for me to shop at the bookstore.”

“We are fully aware of our competition,” says Farrell. “Not only do we want to serve you as best we can, it is in all of our interest because if it’s not on the shelf when you get here to shop for it, you’re going to go elsewhere.”

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