By Shannon McClain, Guest Writer

If you have visited the Garfield Book Company (GBC) this year, you have probably noticed some changes. Most notably — you are no longer picking your own textbooks off the shelves.

The process for buying textbooks has been simplified. Instead of trolling through the stacks of textbooks on the shelves, looking for your class and then trying to figure out what section you are in, now you just follow the steps.

Three banners proclaim the steps within the process to aid students in the transition. First, you go up to the second-floor counter, look up your class schedule and give it to the sales associate. Next, an expert bookstore employee will easily locate your textbook while you wait. Finally, you pick up your books and can pay right there at the counter.

For those who like the change, myself included, the new setup proves to be more streamlined and user-friendly than it was before. A worker who has experience with the textbook system now finds your books for you. It ensures that you get the correct books.

I have heard some rumors circulating about the reasons behind the GBC’s decision to restrict the accessibility of textbooks. One rumor is that students were going into the bookstore each week for their reading assignments and were able to have access to textbooks without paying for them.

While Amanda Hawkins, store manager, said this rumor does have some truth to it, the main reason for the change is theft. Theft is always a problem for bookstores and, in the GBC’s case, not necessarily from Pacific Lutheran University students.There are theft rings that travel to each college bookstore in the area to steal textbooks.

There is a big market for buying and selling textbooks online, and this facilitates theft. It is becoming a problem for bookstores like GBC, and many colleges in Washington have made the switch to what Hawkins calls “counter service”.

There are those who don’t like the change. They find that someone else searching for your books makes the wait too long, and that there is a lot of confusion over which employee is helping you.

Also, if you are the nitpicky type, which I must admit that I am, you may not like that you don’t get to pick out the best used copy of the textbook. However, if you don’t like the copy of the textbook picked out by the employee, you could request a different copy.

All in all, I do support the GBC’s decision. The bookstore gets a lot of flak from students on decisions it must make as a business. Theft means the bookstore loses potential profits, and when students read the store’s textbooks it creases the binding, so it can no longer be sold in new condition, decreasing its product value.

The GBC works hard to balance the needs of the students it serves with its responsibility as a business. It has worked to reduce book costs by more than $130,000 this year, which I am in favor of, because that means lower textbook prices for students.

Something had to change about the way the textbooks were situated in the GBC, and the bookstore chose to change in a way that would be, potentially, more beneficial for students. 

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