By Madeleine Thompson
Philander Chase envisioned a bookstore integrated with college life, serving students in their education. Is every young man to be sent hither and thither for a book and perhaps be obliged after all to send to the East before he can be accommodated? he said in a letter written in 1825. Surely not. We must have a bookstore belonging to the Institution and the profits if any be applied to the education of pious young men for the ministry.
Bookstore Manager Jim Huang, who was hired two years ago, is the newest addition to the nations third oldest and longest continually-operating independent bookstore. He is making Chases dream a reality.
In his first two years as manager, Huang has introduced rental textbooks and a price-comparison website, and he plans to offer more textbook options for students in the future.
What were hoping is that youll be able to walk in, youll be able to look at a shelf and youll see in front of you a new, used and a rental option, Huang said.
Huang also hopes to continue investigating the field of digital textbooks. Theres so much going on there, so much that is exciting and appealing, he said.
Huang prefers physical books, however. Amazon is aggressively courting publishers, and theyre trying to get publishers onto the Kindle platform to sell only on the Kindle platform, Huang said. What bothers me is the idea that a book can only be purchased from one retailer. Similarly, many large retailers like Apple refuse to sell small quantities of certain products, like Mac laptops, to a small-scale bookstore. iPhone and iPad chargers, however, have recently been added to the Bookstores technological offerings, and the first shipment has already sold out. Its hard for us to do the technology itself; its easier for us to do the accessories, Huang said.
Still, Huang hopes to stock laptop-carrying backpacks and a larger selection of non-textbooks in the future. The technology weve been using to run the store has been complete chaos, Huang said. Weve been talking about what we want to do here, and weve got some big plans for rearranging during the summer.
Trisha Davidson, who works at the Bookstore, said the reorganization Huang has set in motion will lead to a much more efficient bookstore. [Huang] is really in touch with the students because he has a daughter in college and a daughter in high school, so he seems to know what theyre going to buy, Davidson said. Some of us are like, Why did he order that? But then itll sell really quickly. We were shocked when the Harry Potter stuff he ordered flew off the shelves.
Huang hopes to continue providing students with the most help in buying textbooks for the lowest prices, as well as other products, which range from greeting cards to bagels. It wasnt long ago that this store was on the verge of being sold to Barnes & Noble, Huang said. I would hate to have that happen. If the store is here in five years, I hope that its a lot like what were doing today, because I think what we offer is valuable to the community.
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