When English Professor Stephen L. Burt ’94 was an undergraduate at the College, his choices about where to purchase textbooks were largely limited to Harvard Square. Burt, like the majority of Harvard students at the time, used the Coop to buy all his coursebooks each semester.
Since the rise of internet sales, Harvard Square has seen a decrease in the number of bookstores, but the Coop still remains the sole seller of official textbooks for Harvard University classes, except for foreign books. After a significant decrease in textbook sales and criticism from students about high prices, the Coop is now debating what role it should take. The Coop released a survey on Wednesday to all members asking this question.
“We see this time as an inflection point. We want to see what opportunities there are to better serve as we go forward,” says Jeremiah P. Murphy, Jr., the president of the Coop. “We’re putting everything on the table.”
In 1882, students in conjunction with University professors tired of Harvard Square businesses’ inflated prices, and decided to pool their capital together to buy books and supplies for students cheaply and with little overhead.
“The University did not provide those materials and students thought maybe we can provide this function and do it better collectively,” Murphy says.