Brooklyn College Community Struggles to Transition to Online-Only Bookstore

A screenshot of the new online bookstore.

As the fall semester began and it came time to order textbooks, Brooklyn College students found the on-campus bookstore replaced by Akademos, an online-only book service.

This summer, Brooklyn College and 11 CUNY schools switched to Akademos, a leading online book retailer which CUNY contracted with last December, to cut costs and provide a wide selection of books. The new system is tied to a student’s CUNYFirst account. Once logged in, students and faculty can find the required texts for each of their courses on the front page with a list of minimum prices, as well as ebook and used options.

In a press release, CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken said the change to Akademos corresponds to CUNY’s pledge to low-cost education.

“The partnership between CUNY and Akademos will further the Governor’s goal of affordability by addressing the rising cost of textbooks, a challenge CUNY students have been facing for some time,” said Milliken.

While the online bookstore is more convenient, students and professors alike have struggled with the change. The rollout of the program also has its own set of problems, according to students. Some freshmen, who had not been informed of the change, didn’t realize they would have to order the textbooks online until arriving at orientation, less than a week before the start of class.  “It’s harder for kids to get a real grasp of what the textbook is,” recalled freshman Nick Romano.

“It’s just so disembodied,” said Jason Frydman, an English professor of nearly ten years. “You could see the books. It had a whole bookcase display. It was book culture.” According to Frydman, he prefered the on-campus bookstore because of the informed associates.

“It’s harder and less magical,” said Frydman about the virtual bookstore.

In addition to textbooks, the prior bookstore sold school supplies and Brooklyn College merchandise. “I miss all the paraphernalia that goes with it,” said Frydman. “Being able to buy your folders, your pens, notebooks, school t-shirts and sweatshirts and bags… I really miss that downstairs.”

A spokesperson for the BC Bookstore was not available for comment before press time.

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