By Brian Nelson
Staff reporter

As campus ambassador Trini Mendoza, accounting sophomore, gives a potential Southwestern student a campus tour, she shows them where they will eat, sleep and pick up their mail. She can’t, however, show them where to buy their books. As she approaches the dark doors of the vacant Bookcave, she says, “This used to be our bookstore and now they are in the process of finding something to do with it. They were thinking apparel shop, but nothing is for sure yet.” Mendoza then explains text books will be purchased through an online campus bookstore.

The online bookstore launches with the 2010 spring semester and can be accessed through Power Campus Self-Service, which has recently replaced IQ Web. The service will be provided through MBS Direct and allows students to order books and materials online and have them delivered to a home or college address. At the end of the semester the books can be sold back, though not for full costs.

“I prefer it,” said Robert Engel, marine biology sophomore. “It’s more easily accessible to students who can’t make it to school before classes start.”

Engel said he is an out-of-state student from Nebraska and has bought books online before, not only for the convenience, but for the price as well. “We all know student book stores charge outrageous, since they come out with a new edition of a book every couple of years.” Engel estimated he spends between $400 and $700 if he buys from the campus. “If I don’t get my books from the school bookstore, I probably save anywhere between $250 and $400 (online).”  Some of the sights Engel said he uses are www.bookprices.com and www.abebooks.com.

Christy Rude, early childhood education sophomore also shops online, and use to buy what she can’t find at the bookstore. Rude said the online bookstore is a good idea because many students already buy their books on the Internet. “It does have a downside too,” she said. “Because if you’re looking for a book online and can’t find it, you could go to the bookstore, or if you didn’t plan ahead you could go and pick one up. You can’t do that anymore.”

Rude said she bought all her books in the bookstore her first semester of freshman year. “It’s kind of sad, because you couldn’t just get books in there,” she said. “You could get shirts and gifts for people.  There were people to help you. You could ask one of the people at the front desk and they would know where to direct you to.”

Laura Welter, English senior, said she has one problem with the online book store. “It is not giving anybody a job,” she said. “Before it was part of the local economy.  It gave people jobs. By ordering online, all the money goes directly to the book sellers.”

Welter said she believes the online bookstore has a lot more potential to be more convenient and accurate as far as the books being ordered goes. However, she did not buy many books from the Bookcave and will not buy many from the online bookstore. “I boycotted the Bookcave after freshman year.  I thought the prices were too high and I also had a problem with their sell back policies.”

Welter said she now almost prefers the Bookcave to the online bookstore. “I thought about giving the online bookstore a whirl, but it’s more important to me to pump money into my local economy, so I’m going to try and find my books at local book stores instead.”

Brian Nelson is a senior majoring in English.  You may e-mail him at brian.nelson@sckans.edu.