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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Bookstore Unveils New Services

As every UMass Boston student knows, one should not always count on the UMB Bookstore to deliver every textbook on time for classes. With over 2,400 titles and 90,000 books ordered last year, managing the bookstore is more of an “art than a science,” according to Mitch Walker, Manager of the UMass Boston bookstore. “In order to get a book into the store, we need to know that a course exists and that there is a book required for that course then we look at past history, then we look at actual enrollments.”

Only since this year has the bookstore had any knowledge of actual student enrollment in any given class, which means that before this school year the bookstore had to rely on past orders and estimates of student enrollment during the semester for classes. This caused headaches for teachers, students and bookstore administration alike, as they had to rely on shaky numbers when ordering books. This new advancement lets the bookstore know in real-time how many students are actually in any given class so they can better prepare, assuring the student population better service this coming semester.

Diane D’Arrigo, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, believes that working more closely with individual teachers and secretaries in workshops and book ordering meetings will increase the accuracy of book purchasing. Ms. D’Arrigo said that the blame for the mismanagement of textbook ordering does not rest with the UMass Boston bookstore, but with late teacher orders and competition with other schools for the publishers’ attention. According to Ms. D’Arrigo, the bookstore would “never under order books” to cut costs, or for any other reason, despite some department heads’ and professors’ allegations that they do.

In addition to the difficulty of finding the correct books, a trip to the bookstore can also leave a student hurting in the wallet. According to bookstore staff, there is not a lot that they can do to lower prices for new books, and because publishers want students to buy new books, new editions of old books are coming out more often than ever. The ideal situation for the bookstore would be to have a type of “recycling” program where every book bought back would be used by another student for a certain number of years. This is unrealistic, but the bookstore does its best to buy back books from students from 5-50% of the original cost, as opposed to buying new books from a publisher or used books from a used book company. Last year, buyback from students put about $200,000 back in students’ hands.

Due to the demand from students, the UMB bookstore is adding new services and expanding old ones. “We (want) the bookstore to be more than just a place to get your books,” Ms. D’Arrigo explains. “This is a place (students) can come.” Many amenities have been added to allow this transformation. A UMB student can now buy computers, printers, video games, a greatly expanded line of UMass Boston clothing,and get a two-day dry cleaning service. Along with great inventory, the bookstore is a good place to relax with friends, check email (with a free wi-fi connection) or, even read a book.