In March, the Queens College Bookstore closed due to the expiration of a contract with the previous provider, Follett. Akademos was selected to be the new book provider, however, the bookstore would be fully online.
While the transition did not seem like a big deal, as QC is the fourth CUNY College to have an online-only bookstore, students have been weighing in on their first semester without a bookstore on campus.
Ricardo Simpson, a freshman English major, said he had a bad experience with the new online bookstore.
“It’s terrible; I would not recommend it to anyone. My book took forever to arrive, so I had to purchase it elsewhere. Customer service was nice, but it took a month to get my money back. I would rather have a physical bookstore,” Simpson said.
Noni Gibbs, a junior Biology major, complained of similar issues.
“I liked the physical bookstore; it provided students with easy access to get their books as soon as they needed them. I understand there are better deals, but you still have to wait for the book to arrive. Sometimes you don’t have the ability to wait since you need the book immediately for homework and assignments,” Gibbs said.
Although the mission statement of the online bookstore says that its goal is “to find students the lowest prices for their course materials,” some students are unconvinced, stating that they find better deals for the same book elsewhere.
An anonymous QC student noted that the rental price of her cell biology textbook was $70.00 from the online bookstore, compared to Amazon, where the price was around $20 and the rental period was about nine days longer.
“We’re college students who try to save at every opportunity we have,” she added.
Sue Saad is an acquisitions editor for Kendall Hunt publishing company.
“Bookstores are not profitable; they used to make money by selling used and rental books, however, that market has been taken away and is handled online,” Saad said. “It benefits publishing companies, as when students buy directly from them, they don’t have to discount prices like they would for the bookstore market. However, it is sad not to see a bookstore around, as it is a social place that adds to the college experience.”
English professor Annmarie Drury said that her students complain about the new online bookstore.
“I think efforts to help students save money on textbooks are good, and I appreciate that aspect of the online bookstore. But conversations in class showed that students were experiencing some difficulties with the new arrangement,” Drury said.
Susan Ippolito, a senior English major said that she thinks the online bookstore is not helpful.
“This semester was made unnecessarily stressful without access to a bookstore. I spent the first few weeks of school searching in vain for my textbooks, scrambling to photocopy and borrow from other students, calling every university in the state and stalking Amazon to see if the books appeared,” Ippolito said. “Whether for books or for pens, folders or the occasional umbrella, a bookstore is a necessary part of any college campus.”
On Friday, Oct. 14, QC students received an email from the Student Union informing them that
The Campus Store will open on Monday, Oct.17.
The email states that the store will be providing students with “amenities that were once available from our bookstore vendor, Follet,” and adds that “Although the college has decided to contract with a virtual bookstore, we still want to provide a place on campus where you can purchase class supplies, spirit wear, promotional items, and health and hygiene goods, among other products.”
The area where such items can be purchased is located in the northeast corridor of the main Dining Hall.