Boxcar Books is no longer able to offer textbook ordering for university classes.
Over the past 7 years, we at Boxcar Books have greatly appreciated the support of many IU professors in partnering with us to offer an alternative textbook source for students. What started as a single shelf of books has grown to a sizeable portion of our collection, with titles from over 50 courses represented.
We have been glad to offer an alternative to Barnes & Nobel and TIS but due to a combination of financial difficulties as well as a reevaluation of our collective priorities, we will no longer be offering textbooks at Boxcar Books. As a collective, we have been reflecting on our organizational focus and attempting to determine how we can be more in line with our mission and vision.
IU’s policies on textbook ordering now requires professors to submit their course reading list with ISBN's and allows students to directly order textbooks for a class from the IU Barnes & Nobel bookstore once a professor submits a syllabus. This along with a continual increase in online book ordering competition has meant a steady decrease in textbook sales for us. With lower sales, the cost of ordering and shipping textbooks has been a great financial strain. The lion's share of Boxcar's finances have been dedicated to textbook purchasing for little return which has greatly weakened Boxcar's ability to redistribute wealth into community projects. Aside from the monetary cost, textbooks have also placed significant stress on the Boxcar Books Collective. Time and energy spent on textbooks has tied up resources and come at the expense of other areas of the project. The adoption of a Textbook Buyer position meant for us a consolidation of knowledge and decision making power that was counterproductive to our linear collective structure.
Acknowledging these losses, we determined that the amount of time and energy spent, combined with the financial and collective strain, makes it unreasonable for us to continue offering textbooks in the way we have been. In future semesters, we will selectively order small quantities of certain titles that we know are regularly assigned in classes and are in line with the scope of our collection. And, of course, students can always special order books through Boxcar Books. Just stop by or call the shop anytime during our open hours with the book ISBN or title and author and one of our volunteers will be glad to check for the book's availability from our regular distributor.
While we regret that we can no longer provide an alternative to corporate textbook retailers in town, we are excited to open ourselves up to new and creative endeavors while also reaffirming our commitment to supporting the Midwest Pages to Prisoners Project. We see our move away from textbooks as a re-imagining of what Boxcar can be and the ways that it, and we, can engage with the university and the community in Bloomington.
We appreciate your support in this time of transition.