Course Pack Price Increase at Bookstore


Joshua Scoggin

In the decision to now sell course packs at the campus store, prices have experienced a substantial– and sometimes shocking– price increase

The beginning of the quarter saw a change in the way that students get materials for their classes: the bookstore is now selling course packs required by their professors rather than at Supercopy. With this change some have noticed a substantial price increase in the cost of course packs, and are wondering why.

Nova Robinson, a history and international studies professor, noticed the price increase when she submitted the course pack for her Women and Gender in the Middle East course, and she received an email from the bookstore saying the price was now 110 dollars for the packet, rather then the 79 dollars that it was last quarter. While in talks with why the price increase happened, Supercopy staff explained that the increase happened because the packs were moved to the bookstore, which was done for student convenience. 

“I think students would rather save 25%on their course packs and have to walk to a different building,” said Robinson.

The move happened this quarter as  a measure to consolidate the learning materials for students to be able to stop in one place for their materials, so students can order course packs online, and because the bookstore has more flexible hours and availability, particularly the weekend before classes. 

In a statement released to The Spectator, Marc Parrish, the manager of the bookstore and Arsenio Roddy-Little, the reprographic and mailing services manager, they tried to explain the reason behind the changes.

“The process involved the campus store and Supercopy to coordinate with one another under the leadership of Director of Campus Services, Dion Wade. Supercopy will continue to do the copyright clearance and production in house. The course packs are then brought to the store and integrated into our textbook management system, allowing for purchase in-store and online. The process adds value to the student experience by providing easy access to all their course materials in one location. Course pack used to be sold at the bookstore a little over 10 years ago. Moreover, it is not uncommon for universities to sell course packs in their bookstores,” Parrish and Roddy-Little said. 

This new system will hopefully be a way to make the system more convenient for students but the significant price increase was done because of the bookstores different pricing and business model compared to Supercopy. 

This allows us to use ecommerce point of sale and a sophisticated course materials management system to ensure maximum used book availability as well as a robust rental system and an easy online experience. [The price increase is because] the standard markup at the campus store for course materials is greater than Supercopy’s markup,” Parrish and Roddy-Little said. 

This price increase has caused some professors to change their course packs and what they are able to include in them. In an effort to reduce the cost for her students Robinson changed her approach to the class and changed her course pack to get the price down. 

“I just had to take a look at my options and I ended up having to cut many articles from my course pack, just to try and keep things reasonable, and I think that has a negative impact on my students’ learning. If I want students to have cutting edge research available to them this is how I have to do it,” Robinson said. 

As it is the job of teachers to give their students the best education they can, the methods that they do this can be somewhat limiting when talking about topics not contained in the library. With the efforts of teachers to provide a quality education to their students, Robinson believes that the costs of getting copyrighted material should not be something that prevents students from learning. 

“I want to make sure all students succeed in my classes, so when making student success more expensive, putting a cost barrier in front of them, that is something that doesn’t feel right to me. I just hope that there is a good reason why such a big burden was put on the backs of students,” Robinson said. 

Whether students find the cost increase to be worth the convenience that they get and what the effect is on their education remains to be seen. 

“I just want to reiterate that the purpose of the move was to give students one place to be able to purchase course material instead of being run around campus.  Along with the online tool, the idea is to enhance the student experience through efforts like this,” Parrish and Roddy-Little said.

Logan may be reached at [email protected]