Why is it so difficult to buy your textbooks?

As Laurier students ease back into the school year, they have again faced frustrations gathering their course materials.

During the first week of classes, the line-up flowed out of the bookstore, extending through the upper concourse and through the doors into the Dr. Alvin Woods Building (DAWB). On a few occasions, the line traveled out the back doors of the DAWB.

“I’ve been here for about thirty minutes,” complained a third-year biology major who asked to not have her name printed.

For those students waiting outside, conditions within the bookstore were not much better. Once inside, students have faced crowded aisles, tight security — including the occasional backpack search — and a long and winding line-up to the cash.

“I’ve been waiting about twenty to thirty minutes,” said Adra Uphadyaya, a fourth-year BBA student, who still stood about forty feet from a cash register.

Further back in the line, third-year history student Sam Berube said he had avoided the long line-up several times before finding himself in a bind. “I haven’t done any of my readings,” he admitted.

When asked if he had considered going elsewhere for textbooks, Berube said that he found it more convenient to go to the bookstore.

There are alternatives available that can save both time and money. BookSwap, held last week in the Solarium, is a student-run event that keeps students’ budgets in mind.

“You save about 50 per cent from what the bookstore’s selling,” explained Matt Russell, director of BookSwap.

“Honestly, there’s no point in waiting in that two hour line,” he added.
Russell, a second-year BBA student, estimates that BookSwap saw about three hundred students a day.

“The first day we started selling we saw about two hundred students waiting outside,” he said.
However, he believed that more students could have used BookSwap to their advantage, as there has been a combination of apathy among students and a lack of information circulating on the event.

Some students even opted to venture over to University of Waterloo (UW). With a line-up just as long as Laurier’s, some students observed that the line was moving significantly faster over at UW.

Many students have found their books through online exchanges. “I’ve also used the Facebook Marketplace,” said Uphadyaya, who attended BookSwap on top of that. Students have also been consulting the popular WLU “Must-Knows” group on Facebook, both seeking to buy and sell books.

Unfortunately, such alternatives are lost on students seeking Laurier custom course packs.
The course packages, some of which cost over $100, change every year and are thus not exchangeable or reusable.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Berube muttered. His course pack cost 75 dollars. Further up in the line, Uphadyaya held three course packs, ranging from $90 to over $100.

In fact, course packs are illegal to re-sell. “It makes it more difficult when you spend all this money and you can’t really do anything with that,” said Russell sympathetically.

Alternatives if you still have no textbooks



Pros: Prices are easy to negotiate.

Cons: You often don’t know who you’re buying from or what condition your book is in.

Amazon or elsewhere online

Pros: Fair prices, no line-ups, no awkward meetings with strangers. You can also buy a Kindle and buy e-books if they’re available.

Cons: Shipping can be costly and time-consuming.

Other Bookstores in Waterloo

Pros: Books are brand new and often without the dramatic markup.

Cons: Stores often contain novels, biographies, and anthologies, but few actual textbooks.