Classes start next Monday and I'm already steeling myself for the complaints from students who can't POSSIBLY be expected to do the reading because they don't have the books. In the past I might have flippantly suggested that they go to the bookstore, but I'm not doing that this semester. I have been to the bookstore, and it wasn't pretty: I saw four copies of the textbook for a class of 22 students, two copies of each book for a class of 9 students, and no copies of any books whatsoever for my two other classes.
So I talked to the manager, who gave me a lovely little lesson in supply and demand:
Bookstore Manager Who Can't Be Much Older than Twelve: We sold both copies of the books for that class.
Me: You only ordered two copies?
BMWCBMOTT: We don't order many copies of texts for upper-level classes because usually juniors and seniors find other ways to get their books.
Me: Maybe because they've learned that the books aren't available in the bookstore.
BMWCBMOTT: If they need it, we can always special-order it for them.
Me: They need it next Tuesday. If they come in on Monday, will they be able to get it on Tuesday?
BMWCBMOTT: That's why we're promoting this amazing new program!!!
[I'll spare you the sales pitch, but the essence of the plan is that the entire campus has to agree to order all textbooks through this program and the books all arrive at the student's doorstep at the beginning of the semester, but faculty have little freedom in selecting editions.]
Me: How about the books written by that author who's coming to visit in a few weeks? Are they in yet?
BMWCBMOTT: They should arrive in time for the reading.
Me: But what about before the reading? Don't you plan to do a display about this author and promote her books?
BMWCBMOTT: People who want the book can buy it the night of the reading.
Me: But what about people who might want to read the book before the reading? For instance, my students are reading the first chapter for class, and some of them might be inspired to read the rest of it before the author's visit.
BMWCBMOTT: They can always order it from Amazon.
Me: Wait, isn't this a bookstore? Don't you want to encourage students to come in and, you know, buy books?
BMWCBMOTT: We just don't do it that way.
Me: Yes. Right. I'll try to remember that next time. And when my students complain that they don't have the books, I know where to send them.