University Bookstore implements new textbook distribution, students navigate system and school

Students+wait+in+line+behind+the+Plemmons+Student+Union+on+Wednesday%2C+August+26%2C+2020.

Jesse Barber

Students wait in line behind the Plemmons Student Union on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.

Jake Markland , Associate News Editor

As students finish their second week of classes,  some are struggling to navigate the University Bookstore’s COVID-19 based system meant to promote social distancing, possibly facing issues with schoolwork along the way. 

Different from previous years, the university requires all students to order their fall 2020 textbooks online and have eliminated the option of going into the bookstore with their booklist. 

Despite the new provisions, students on App State Classifieds said days have passed since their initial order and they have not received an email with pickup instructions or shipping details. 

“I ordered my books over a week ago and have yet to get any (information) on them,” said Devon DiStefano, a graduate student. 

Kat Orlovitz, a sophomore, said she received an email to sign up for a pickup time, but wasn’t able to schedule one. After contacting the bookstore several times, Orlovitz said she was told Aug. 21 that the scheduling website was down and was instructed to show up without an appointment. 

Finn Jarrell and Justin Koltermann wait in line for their textbooks outside Plemmons Student Union on Wednesday, Aug. 26. The process has taken a week from submitting the books needed for class to standing in line at the time slot they signed up for. (Jesse Barber)

“When I went to pick up my books, I got told I had to wait for yet another email,” Orlovitz said. 

Alfonso De La Serna, a senior who works at the bookstore, said employees are working hard to ensure all orders are fulfilled. De La Serna said the bookstore has been completing hundreds of orders a day. 

Multiple professors have made adjustments for students who have not received textbooks yet. Kathryn Montalbano, assistant professor, had to upload scanned copies of some textbook chapters for her course onto AsULearn. 

Montalbano, who teaches her online courses from home, said her personal scanner is significantly slower than those available on campus. Scanning one chapter a page at a time can take two hours, she says. 

“That’s a very small price to pay for the increased safety of my colleagues and students by not being there unnecessarily,” Montalbano said. “It’s just another way we all need to try to be flexible during this time.” 

Students have had to modify their habits as well. Ali Harris, a sophomore, has had to adjust how she completes her assignments while waiting for a workbook for one of her classes to arrive. 

“It’s definitely made things more difficult for me,” Harris said. “I have to go to the library to print out all of these pages which costs money”.  

When placing a textbook order online, students are prompted to either ship with UPS or pick up their books in person from a tent outside the bookstore. Both options cost $10. 

“In order to limit the lines to allow physical distancing at the bookstore, we have asked that only students living in the residence halls pick-up textbooks in person, and that off-campus students select the shipping option,” said Elisabeth Wall, content specialist and editor for University Communications. 

Wall said that additional staff have been added to the bookstore and that textbook requests are able to be fulfilled in three days. Wall also recommended that students let their professors know if their textbooks have been ordered but haven’t arrived yet. 

After an on-campus student’s order is processed, they recieve an email with pickup instructions. 

In an email sent to students July 23, campus services administration said on-campus students would not be able to pick up their textbooks outside of their designated time. They emphasized that students must wait for a fulfillment email with pickup instructions before signing up for a time or they risk their order not being ready upon arrival. 

“Freshmen would order their books and then come to pick them up saying that they got their pickup time and sometimes they wouldn’t be out for us to give them,” said Katie Barnes, a bookstore volunteer. 

Notwithstanding, Wall said the bookstore has been successful in limiting long lines and promoting social distancing. 

“The new process has allowed us to complete orders while enhancing safety for our students and staff,” Wall said. 

Wall encouraged students who need assistance or have questions to contact the university bookstore at 828-262-3070 for help.