ailment serif; color: #222222;”>The efficiency and effectiveness of the current business model used by the Students’ Union for its second-hand bookshop has been called into question.
online serif;”>After experiencing difficulties with the service, third year Social Science student Catherine Maloney decided to take matters into her own hands and contacted last year’s Education Officer Sam Geoghegan and his successor Shane Comer to voice her concerns.
“I could never find what I was looking for….The books are floating around and I think people don’t sell them to the bookshop because they realise they’re not going to be picked up… Are there enough students out there that are annoyed about this for the union to get up and do something about it?”
In its present form, the bookshop attempts to sell books on behalf of students, taking a share of the revenue generated by sales. Under the terms and conditions of the shop, books become the property of the Students’ Union if they fail to sell within a year. In order to deal with the vast number of books that remain unsold for years, the SU then removes them from the system and sells them in aid of charity.
In the first weeks of term the bookshop, which is located in the Student Centre, was visibly overcome with the amount of stock it had to deal with. This lead to staff being unable to process books in time to keep up with demand. Issues arise when books remain unprocessed, as it is not possible to sell them before they are added to the system. “Even if one is lucky enough to find a required book within the pile of unprocessed books, it is not possible to purchase it,” said Maloney.
The Students’ Union also maintains an online catalogue of books for sale on in the shop. However, this catalogue is subject to a 48 hour delay between the sale of a book in the shop and its removal from the system. According to Education Officer Shane Comer, this interval is unavoidable. “Unfortunately that is nothing to do with us, that’s to do with our website hosts…There was a longer delay, but I’m still in talks to try and get a quicker turnaround on it.”
Ms Maloney proposes an alternative solution along the lines of websites like adverts.ie. Students would pay a flat rate to advertise their books and would be responsible for managing their own sales. “Students could make arrangements with prospective buyers to meet on campus and carry out the transaction. If the U-card could be used to pay the initial flat fee then the SU would not have to get involved in handling credit card information.”
Mr Comer says that while he welcomes the suggestion, it could leave students open to being duped. “Online you might not get the whole details of the book.” Mr Comer informed the College Tribune that he intends to meet with the newly appointed manager of the bookshop and SU President Rachel Breslin to discuss ways in which the shop can be improved upon. “We’re going to draw up a long term business plan to see how we can improve the efficiency of the bookshop and improve the service it provides to students.”
“I’m not saying that this is the only answer,” says Ms Maloney. “This system is broken. They’re losing money because they have books that people want to buy sitting there unprocessed and people can’t buy them. It’s up to the Students’ Union to work out how to do a better job.”