I turned in my book orders in mid-October, when they were due.

I confirmed my book order in early November with the supervisor in textbooks, who assured me that problems I'd had in a previous semester would not occur this time.

Yet the bookstore does not have 3 of the 5 novels I ordered for my undergraduate course. Including the first one that they are supposed to be reading for next week.

I spoke to an underling yesterday at 2:30 who explained that the supervisor, T., was at lunch, and that she would be the only person who could find out what the problem is with getting the books, since there were no notes in the computer. I left my name, number, and relevant course info.

I called again at 4:15 yesterday and was put on hold for 8 minutes. Finally someone said that T. was busy and took down my name and number.

I called this morning at 11:30 and was put on hold for 10 minutes. Eventually I was told that T. was on the phone and I left my name and number.


So I'm going to have to rearrange my syllabus, going against historical chronology (and the carefully planned order of concepts & texts) because only 3 students have the first novel in hand.

I don't know when the other books will arrive. I can't get in touch with anyone in the bookstore who actually knows anything.

The most frustrating part of all is that the three books that aren't here yet are from a publisher whose editions I especially value -- expertly annotated, with good historical context and additional materials. I choose to teach books from their catalogue whenever possible. But this is the third semester that our stupid campus bookstore can't seem to get their books on time. I'm going to have to go back to using less good editions just so they'll be on the shelves.

Meanwhile, I'm just glad I planned for tomorrow's class to be more introductory lecture and activities. So I can give them a new reading schedule. After all the work of setting up secondary readings that would work with each novel and in sequence.

And I really wish T. would at least call me back and tell me something. Will the books be here in a week? in a month? never? should I order something else instead?

Worst part is that until this is resolved it's hard for me just to let it go and focus on other things I need to do.

UPDATE 3:05 pm: I called again and finally reached T. Although they had submitted the order to the publisher months ago, when they contacted the publisher 2 weeks ago to follow up, the order hadn't gone through. So they put a rush on the order, and she hopes the books will be here next week. I'm still irritated but at least I have some idea about what I can tell my students.

I was nice to T on the phone (catching more flies with honey) and it actually sounds like the legions of part time employees at the bookstore are the problem -- they'd left messages with the wrong phone number for me, incomplete messages, etc. I know that by March my students and I will have forgotten all about these problems. It's just frustrating during the first week. Many of my students have to get their books from the campus bookstore because of the terms of their loans/grants, so I'm forced to work with the bookstore even though it's disorganized. (Plus it's state law.) I always provide the info so students who can, can get the books somewhere else. But many of them can't do that.