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University News

Campus spellbound by Mocha mix-up

By
Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Students, be confunded no more. The reading list for many classes does not, in fact, include “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”.

Many courses saw their online booklists change this summer, suddenly listing the popular novel as a required text.

Mocha creator Dave Pacheco ’07 pegged the glitch to Amazon.com. Every hour or two, Amazon sends book pricing, titles and authors to Mocha according to ISBN numbers sent by the Brown Bookstore, he said. But when the bookstore cannot find an ISBN number for a professor’s listing, it sometimes sends a string of zeros instead.

One result of an Amazon search of that string of zeros is “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” — so students who should really be buying “A History of the Modern Middle East” may find themselves investigating Muggle Studies instead.

Bookstore staff, who stock textbook shelves based off a master book list on their own system, were entirely unaware of the error. The online Banner course catalog pulls its reading list directly from the bookstore’s system. No copies of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” were ordered, said bookstore textbook manager Mike McDade.

At least one student was pleasantly surprised by the change to the reading lists.

“I just thought my professor had a pretty great sense of humor,” said Harry Reis ‘11.5. “Me and my friends thought it was really funny.”

But an affected professor was stunned to learn of the not-so-required reading on her book list.

“I ordered no such thing!!” Jane Lancaster, visiting assistant professor of history, wrote in an email to BlogDailyHerald.

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