Students rushing to buy course materials for their first days of classes will have a shorter time to return textbooks to the Brown Bookstore.
Under the new policy, students must return textbooks within three days of purchase during the first two weeks of classes, which end Feb. 8. If students are not enrolled in the course for which a returned book is assigned, they must present either an official course schedule, transcript or drop slip for the course. The bookstore has also instated a new textbook rental system.
For the third and fourth week of the semester, the bookstore will only accept textbook returns for dropped courses. Students must present a drop slip as verification and make the returns within three days of dropping a course. The bookstore will not accept textbook returns after Feb. 23.
Previously, students were able to return textbooks at any point during the first two weeks of classes. The bookstore made the policy change in an effort to limit student use of the bookstore as a "lending library," Director of Bookstore Administration Steven Souza said. In the past, some students have bought textbooks and then returned them at the end of the two-week period despite remaining enrolled in the course, having extracted the necessary information from the books. Others would buy and return textbooks repeatedly during the period, which was allowed under the old policy, he said.
"It's not like they were doing any chicanery," Souza said. "That's the way it was written."
The bookstore usually sees over $100,000 returned to students at the end of shopping period. Often, returned books have to be marked as used when put back on the shelves even if they are in new condition, which Souza called "a real burden."
Furthermore, some book publishers have no-return policies of their own, leaving the bookstore with the task of selling any textbooks that remain on the shelves after shopping period ends. Other publishers will charge restocking fees or only buy back a certain number of books the store cannot sell, Souza said.
The advantages of the new policy include a quicker return for textbooks to the shelves during shopping period, alleviating the problem of sold-out books, Souza said. Lines at the end of shopping period will also be more manageable if students are not all returning textbooks at the same time, he said.
Souza said he was wary of surprising students with the new policy, so the store is covered in signs outlining the specific rules for returns. Though many students have approached him and bookstore workers with questions about the changes, expressing some apprehension and confusion, many seem reassured after further explanation, Souza added.
"We're asking for a little give and take with the students," he said, while also "trying not to penalize any student for trying to get the book they need."
Amy Traver '12 said the change "sounds more confusing than the previous policy," though she added that the new rules seem "understandable" in light of the administration's reasoning.
Students also seem receptive to the new textbook rental policy, the demand for which the store underestimated, Souza said. Certain textbooks are available for rent, and students can highlight in the books as long as they return them in saleable condition, he said.
Souza expects fewer sales at the beginning of shopping period because of the newer policy but also fewer returns once the two weeks are up, he said. The store will monitor how well the policy works, as well as overall response to it, to determine if any other changes need to be made.