Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Things about textbooks that make you go hmm…

When we think about textbooks as a student, we often think “my gosh they are so expensive” or “darn these are heavy”. I remember as a K12 teacher seeing rows of brand new books gathering dust because the ‘budget money had to be spent’(use it or lose it money).

I understand that textbooks are truly necessary, especially good ones. Also, I do personally prefer hard copy texts to eBooks, but that might be just a generational thingJ

After reading this article today, I do realize that somewhere along the line something has to change about textbooks; I am just not sure exactly what though.

“The hidden costs of unsolicited textbooks — a view from the mailroom”

“Ugh, I HATE those! Nobody wants them, nobody asks for them, and they take up valuable space in our truck and our holding area.”

“As far as the cost it passes onto us, it’s definitely hard to quantify, but I can tell you all the different ways we waste time on those packages.”

“First, we get the packages from UPS or Fedex and start the receiving process. That means identifying the name and department of each package so we can scan it in. Some of the publishers seem to think that Math, Statistics, and Computer Science are all one department [ed.: These are three separate departments at our place], so that means looking people up and sometimes calling a few departments to find out where to take the package that nobody wants. I’d say that when the mailings come (it’s usually in waves), we spend 20–30% of the receiving time on them, depending on how much other mail we have that day.”

“After being scanned into our own tracking software, the books get moved into our holding space. They’ll sit there for an hour or so, until whoever’s delivering packages loads them into the truck. Each one adds 5–10 seconds to our loading time, so they add up pretty quick when we’re getting 5 or more for each department. It’s worse with the ones that are packed in that heavy paper as opposed to an actual box. We have to find a space to wedge them in securely, because they don’t stack well.”

“The delivery phase isn’t heavily affected by the books, unless there’s a lot of them or they sent books for several departments. Usually, we’ll get one or two departments’ mailings at a time, and there’s often other things going to the same department or building, so the extra stop isn’t a huge factor on a normal day.[…]”

“As far as solutions go, there’s not much hope. We could refuse shipment when we get them, but if we mistake a wanted package for a book (not easy, but it does happen), we run into problems. They don’t put packing slips on the majority of the boxes, and even if they did, the carriers and we don’t have time to check each one we suspect.”

What are your thoughts on this subject? What are your experiences like? Do you have any recommendations?

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

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