Textbook reservations transition to Web

The USF Bookstore received a makeover this semester that store director Grace McQueen said will make it more appealing to students.

McQueen said two particular programs have undergone significant improvements, resulting in increased sales.

The Textbook Reservation Program, which in previous years required students to fill out a form and turn it in to a Bookstore employee, has evolved into an online-only process this year.

More than 1,000 students logged on to to reserve books this semester. McQueen said the bookstore recorded similar numbers last year. But she said once the program is better-known and students become more comfortable using it, that number will increase.

Junior Jill Feeney said she hadn?t experienced any problems buying books the regular way in the Bookstore this semester, but said had she known such a program existed, she would have used it.

?When I went to the University of Florida, I used a program like that,? Feeney said. ?I didn?t know they had it here.?

Students who used the service provided information such as class schedule, preference for new or used books, credit card number and financial aid information. Bookstore employees then processed the orders, putting the students? books into boxes, which were available for pickup Aug. 13-29. After Aug. 29, all books that had not been picked up were put back on the shelf.

McQueen said the program gives students advantages that cannot be achieved while buying books traditionally in the Bookstore.

?The program is free to students, eliminates long lines and gives students primary access to used books,? McQueen said.

McQueen said the program will open again for spring 2002 around Dec. 1 and close on Dec. 26.

Plans to further improve the new online reservation program include accepting debit card orders, offering a complete online retail store and shipping purchases to students on campus. However, McQueen said that having a retail bookstore service complete with delivery service was a long-term goal.

?We are beginning the process now, but within six to eight months people should be able to order a book and have it delivered to their home,? she said.

McQueen said the online reservation program isn?t the only improved aspect of the Bookstore. The Bookstore Advanced Purchase Program, which this year offered students a $300 advance for textbooks, serviced more than 5,000, doubling last year?s total. The bookstore offered the cash advance after last year when financial aid awards began to be distributed after the drop/add period, leaving students without the money they depended on for books.

McQueen said the Bookstore also changed the way textbooks were displayed on shelves by making the course prefix larger and organizing all the books by course prefix alphabetically.

But these improvements didn?t help freshman Jessica Brady.

?The lines were real long,? Brady said.

But Brady did have an idea that could solve the problem.

?When you get your books, you have to walk up and down the stairs,? she said. ?If they had a cashier on each floor, it would go a lot faster.?

Sophomore Dustin Binge bought his books off campus this semester because the USF Bookstore didn?t have everything he needed.

He said, however, had he known about the reservation program, he would have bought from the Bookstore on campus instead.

?It would have saved me the trouble of worrying about shortages of books,? Binge said.

Contact Ryan Meehanat oracleryan@yahoo.com