The Joy of Textbooks

In all of my other jobs I have been involved in running a textbook department, but I have never been the one that is solely responsible for running a textbook department. When I took this job I was excited about the opportunity to learn a department that was not my specialty. It was a chance to get better at my job.

What I have learned in the past three months is that I never want to be a text manager again. It is not hard work but it is tedious. Publishers hate you, professors hate you, and students hate you. No matter how much you try to explain the details behind the prices of books or why you need to do things a certain way, you still get crap from the people you are trying to serve. It is my job after all to make sure that every student has the book the professor wants them to have prior to the start of class. I do my best to ensure this but it seems that I never have help from the people I need help from.

You would think that if a professor truly wanted their books in time for the start of class then they would make sure they got the order to us in a timely manner. If they get the order to us by the deadline, not only can we make sure the book is here but we can also buy back books from the students thus giving money back to the students and saving the new students money. I try to make this clear to all of the professors I come in contact with, yet we are two weeks from the start of class and I am still missing about 15% of the orders from professors. Guess they really don’t care about how much students spend on books, but I am still the bad guy!

Professors feel entitled, and while they have every right to demand the best from their students, and I should be able to give them the best they need to give me something to work with. I try to make it easy for them but when they tell me they want something and then change what they want 15 times and then don’t understand why there is a problem it grates on my last nerve.

I am not Amazon, and I am sorry that I can’t get you 100 of a book that is out of print. There are limits to what I can do and when I am trying to get 5000 titles in every 4 months for the students there really are limits.

Ah yes, and the students hate you no matter what. You are after all the person who sets the prices on books and all of the money they spend goes directly into my pocket. Although the truth of the matter is that the bookstore makes less than 10% of the price of a new book, all the rest of the money goes elsewhere. But of course I am just the figure head of the evil institution to students no matter how much I try to be nice!

But not all is bad, just like in everything I love the people I am working with and I have some great contacts in the departments and at the University. We have a great time and we work hard. It is not my favorite job but it has given me the opportunity to learn and be a better manager as well as help out others develop there skills.

If only I could get the professors and students to like me… I just want people to like me!

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