Each year, many Princeton students must make use of the services provided by Pequod Communications. In addition to thesis binding for seniors, the store sells “course packets” that contain many, or all, of the readings and other written materials for a given course at the beginning of each semester. These course packets allow professors to avoid uploading each individual course reading onto E-Reserves and provide access to materials that cannot be uploaded to E-Reserves for copyright reasons. However, the packets are often expensive and create problems for students who are shopping classes. To remedy these and other issues, the Board suggests that professors minimize the cost of course packets by only including material that cannot legally be uploaded to E-Reserves and by creating addendum packets for newly introduced readings to facilitate packet resale in subsequent years. We also recommend that the University encourage Pequod to implement better buyback and return policies and to increase its hours during peak times.
Course packets can be very costly,exceeding $100in some cases. This is a burden for all students, particularly given the already-substantial costs of textbooks and other supplies. One reason for this price is the size of the packets themselves. While Pequod packets should ideally include only readings that cannot be uploaded to E-Reserves (often due to copyright restrictions), many professors include all of the readings, even those that do not have copyright restrictions, in a packet. While this may be easier for professors, it makes the packet unnecessarily large and expensive. Instead, we urge professors to include in packets only those readings which cannot be uploaded to E-Reserves and make the rest available online. This will decrease the size and cost of the packets.
Uploading more readings to E-Reserves is particularly important before the conclusion of the add/drop period, which occurs a few weeks into each semester. Currently, as most or all readings are in the course packets, students are forced to purchase a packet before they are sure that they will continue in a course. Under Pequod’s return policy, students receive only a partial refund for returned packets or no refund at all if the packet has been written in. This policy unrealistically assumes students will not take notes or annotate readings for classes they are shopping. As a result, students who drop a course are essentially financially punished when returning packets to Pequod. On the other hand, if professors make an effort before the add/drop deadline to assign readings without copyright restrictions that can be uploaded to E-Reserves, then students would be able to avoid the significant cost of purchasing a course packet until they have committed to their courses.
As years go by, professors may add new readings to their courses. If the readings are supplied through a course packet, this means that previous editions of the course packet cannot be sold for reuse by current students in the same way that many students resell old textbooks. To remedy this, the Board suggests that Pequod print newly added readings (i.e., changes from the previous year’s course packet) in separate packets for a lower cost. This would allow students to purchase, at a presumably lower price, prior years’ packets from other students who have already taken the course. For any new readings, students can purchase the separate, smaller packet from Pequod. This change would benefit Pequod as well as it would allow it to implement a more generous buy-back policy, which in turn would allow them to resell old course packets.
Finally, the Board recommends extending Pequod’s hours of operation. Currently, the store is open only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and not at all on weekends. These constrained hours can make it difficult for students to find time to go to Pequod, as they are often busy during the day with classes and other required events. Extending the store’s hours slightly longer into the evening and on the weekends — especially during high demand weeks such as the first weeks of each semester and thesis binding season — would alleviate this difficulty. Labyrinth Books, for example, similarly extends its hours during the beginning of each semester, which is very helpful in providing students more flexibility.
To encourage Pequod to adopt these new practices (extended hours and separate packets for newly added readings), the University can exercise its considerable bargaining power in negotiations with Pequod. We hope, though, that both Pequod and University professors will be quick to accept the Board’s suggestions because they will produce a more efficient and more affordable system for distributing course readings.TheEditorial Boardis an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor, and the Editor-in-Chief.