Where’s My Books?

By Jeff DeMartino Salad Days

I can’t get all my books, but do I care? The bookstore has all of my favorite magazines. Like “Your Prom. Perhaps you’re different – more mature. Maybe you like hair care. Well, the bookstore has:

“Hairdo Ideas.” “Color & Style.” “Hair Cut and Style.” “Sophisticate’s Hairstyle Guide.” “Celebrity Hairstyles.”

You might also peruse such academic journals as “Log Home Living” or “Low Rider.”

Chances are, you’re turning to magazines because you don’t have all your books to turn to. Add/Drop period is tough enough as is. Since the registrar has already closed many of the best classes, I face the ordeal of finding that mysterious fifth course. I have a difficult enough time with the course booklet, chock full of many interesting but unapproachable courses for this English major (“Celtic Latin” – can I pass if I translate Enya? Or is Enya Gaelic?).

And even though Add/Drop can’t get it right (see “Add/Drop Anarchy,” pg. 2), I expect to find my books on the shelf. After all, isn’t that the business of Georgetown’s bookstore? I remember, in high school, all my books were readily available on the first day of school.

Our modest Byzantine mess of a bookstore can’t seem to get it right, though. I ask my friends about their book status. Most need two or three or more. One has all. One needs more than half of his.

One of my sources informed me that his Shakespeare class received the wrong order from the bookstore, which shelved the wrong edition of “The Merchant of Venice.” No problem, right?

Follett ordered “The Merchant of Venice and Other Stories” – including such sidebars as “Hamlet” and “King Lear” – with a younger audience in mind. Tattooed across the back of the book, in letters legible enough for readers of all ages, is the title “Grade 3.”

Hungover students will be thrilled to learn that the entirety of Scenes 8 and 9 of Act V have been nipped and tucked into the tautest thing since Michael Jackson’s face:

“After a great struggle, Macduff killed the king, and cut off his head. He presented it to Malcolm, the new king. Everyone was relieved that the reign of the cruel King Macbeth had ended.”

Try peeling the onion on that conclusion. I guess third graders aren’t quite primed for subtext.

Georgetown sold the bookstore to Follett College Stores in 1996, with the hopes that Follett’s prices would quell student pressure to lower book prices. According to the Aug. 30, 1996 Hoya, the University’s Executive Cabinet also leased out the bookstore space in Leavey to Follett because Follett gave the University $1 million up front and $10,000 annually for book scholarships. Also to their credit, Follett installed the book-ordering web site they planned in 1996.

But other pledges ring empty. Follett had plans to build a much-needed second floor to expand services, and pledged to hire “as many work-study students as possible,” according to then-GUSA President John Cronan (COL ’98).

A call to the bookstore indicated that they have no work-study employees and, as far as I can tell, there’s no second floor yet. Perhaps a log cabin addition is in order.

I’d just like for Follett to get the book thing in order. If you got most of your books, then you’re a lucky dog. The only saving grace here is the bookstore employees, who deal with impatient Hoyas quite gracefully. It’s pretty clear that the lack of support comes at the corporate level, where the stuffed shirts have failed us by sending “Spice Girl Valentine” instead of Shakespeare. Even such off-campus competitors as varsitybooks.com have snuck into the competition through aggressive advertising and lower costs. And the university doesn’t even recognize them.

Enterprise on campus can and has worked – one need look no farther than the recent success of the Corp’s recent foray into ICC. The Corpies managed to negotiate for a much-needed coffee bar in the ICC lobby. This plan sounds like it lives up to the Corpies slogan: “Students Serving Students.”

Follett has a much more ambitious slogan. “If you’re not the lead dog, the view never changes,” one ad reads. No kidding. It all sounds good until you realize Follett’s the only dog in town. And the view looks the same from here.

Salad Days appears Fridays in The Hoya.

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