Book-buying is U’s first lesson

by David Hyland

With long lines, costly supplies and general confusion, buying course books is one of the most dreaded of student experiences. The task often leaves people hurting — both in the head and in the pocketbook.
But the cost of an education is a little less painful with some knowledge about the bookstore options and some wisdom from its experienced employees.
The University’s largest bookstore is on the East Bank in 160 Williamson Hall. Located beneath the plaza between Nicholson and Folwell halls, the bookstore carries books for courses taught on the East Bank: everything from computer science to philosophy to architecture to chemistry.
The East Bank store also carries University apparel, popular books and a computer store to purchase, rent or repair both desktop and laptop computers.
Shirley Hellem, manager of the East Bank bookstore, said the store has approximately 15 employees — all decked out in blue smocks — on the sales floor that can help students find their books.
The West Banks’ H.D. Smith bookstore, located underground between Anderson and Blegen halls, stocks course books in history, political science, business, international relations, music and art. With its proximity to the Art Building, the bookstore also has a large section devoted to art supplies.
The St. Paul bookstore, located in Room 7 of the St. Paul Student Center, houses books for all courses taught on the St. Paul campus such as agricultural, food and environmental sciences, biological sciences, human ecology and natural resources, among others. The bookstore also carries computer software, University clothing and other merchandise.
“It’s just like the other store, it’s just on a smaller scale,” said Emily Brownback, a bookstore employee and recent graduate in genetics and cell biology.
Besides the University’s bookstores, the privately-owned Student Bookstore is only a few feet away from Williamson Hall, in Dinkytown’s Dinky Dome.
The bookstore carries books for both the East and West Banks and St. Paul campuses.
“We try to offer students more choice, we try to carry as many used books as we can,” said Laura Sjoquist, operations manager at the Student Bookstore.
But besides good service, bookstore employees are also full of advice for students to have a quick and painless book-buying experience.
After 18 years of working at the bookstore, Hellem suggests students wait to buy their books until they are sure they are taking the courses. She also said students should bring their registration information so they know exactly which classes they are taking.
“Students get frustrated with the long lines and they can hopefully avoid this,” she said.
Brownback, who has worked at the bookstore for more than a year, said the best time for students to buy their books is a week before classes begin because the bookstores are usually stocked up. She said used books, which are cheaper, are easier to get if students come early.
Brownback also said the best time to sell their books back to the bookstore is during finals week. She said if students wait to sell their books back, the bookstore might meet their quota for those particular books.