Bookstore ramps up for fall

Kicking off the busy season

- August 30, 2011

Student employees Brent Perry (left) and Justin Forbes help keep the shelves stacked at the bookstore's SUB location. (Nick Pearce photo)
Student employees Brent Perry (left) and Justin Forbes help keep the shelves stacked at the bookstore's SUB location. (Nick Pearce photo)

With the September rush about to hit, staff at the Dalhousie Bookstore are prepared as ever.

The popular ‘Books in Residence’ option for res students—which delivers books to students' rooms prior to their arrival—is in full swing with its Wednesday deadline for orders fast approaching.

What’s more, bookstore staff will be celebrating the new school year with two events this week:

  • A staff appreciation day for Dalhousie faculty and staff all day Tuesday at the SUB location, featuring a preview of the new clothing options—tax-free, too—with refreshments and prizes.
  • A metro community night on Thursday, where the bookstore will be staying open until 7:00 p.m. (along with PCPC and the DalCard office) to let off-campus students beat the rush in getting their school business done.

“What we aim for in our customer service is convenience and confidence,” says Tina Shannon, bookstore manager. “Students know they can get the materials they need for class, and we work to make it easy for them to do so.”

44,000 textbooks each September

The goal this year is to make that process even easier, especially when it comes to textbooks. The bookstore sold 92,700 books last year, and 44,000 of them in September alone.

This year, staff plan to provide regular ‘stock updates on the bookstore’s Facebook page as the fall rolls along, letting students know when popular out-of-stock textbooks return to the shelves. And they continue to work behind-the-scenes to make textbooks available at the lowest possible prices.

“We work hard with publishers to make sure students get the best price points,” says Judy Davidson, the bookstore’s lead textbook buyer, who tells of one example where her team was able to get a special Dal-exclusive package from a publisher that shaved $110 off the cost of a particular book.

“We’re not always able to negotiate in that way, but we’re always looking for ways to get students the books they need at a better price.”

New initiatives for the future

One cool initiative in the works is a mobile app for buyback season, scheduled to roll out this fall. Rather than dragging all their textbooks to the bookstore to see how much is being offered for each of them, students will be able to scan the barcodes in the comfort of their own home or residence and get the buyback price. Last year, the bookstore bought back $230,000 worth of textbooks to add to its supply of used offerings.

Most significant of all may be a pilot rental program, currently scheduled to launch in January. When implemented, it will allow students to pay a portion of a book’s cost to acquire it, via a third-party website, on a short-term basis. Students can select how long they wish to keep the book for—from a few weeks to the entire term—and have it shipped directly to them. Students pay for shipping and handling to acquire the books, but they only have to drop them off at the bookstore when their rental period is up.

“It’s about offering choice,” explains Ms. Shannon. “It’s an option that will be great for students who may only need or want a book for a few weeks.”

This type of system is becoming increasingly popular in Canada and the United States and the bookstore hopes that students at other universities, as well as community members, will consider taking advantage of the service through Dal when it launches.

Visit the Dalhousie Bookstore website at


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