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An Open Letter To My College's Bookstore's Website

Actual text of my college bookstore's website:

Buying Your Textbooks Just Got Easier...

When you receive your class schedule, come into the bookstore. Look through our selection of new and used textbooks. Buy them right then and there and take them with you. Happy studying!

My response:

To whom it may concern,

Thanks a bundle! You've made buying my textbooks so easy! And all you had to do was provide a two-line description of every purchase ever since the invention of currency! Other websites claim to make purchase easy, but they involve complicated clicking through stocks and entering in all kinds of crazy numbers. In fact, I've been so jaded by these sites that to me, the headline "Buying Your Textbooks Just Got Easier..." implies that you've instituted some kind of online textbook ordering system! But no, you've discovered a much more cost-effective method of simplifying the confusing textbook purchase process, just by briefly explaining how it's traditionally done.

I have to wonder about the previous system of textbook purchase, however. If "look[ing] through [y]our selection of new and used textbooks" then "buy[ing] them" ("right then and there" no less!) is the new, simplified system, up with what did my upperclass predecessors put? "Barter for textbooks with goods from your farm"? "Haggle incessently with rugged tradesmen"?

I am fascinated, too, by the writer of this text. It takes a very sheltered existence to be thrilled by the prospect of buying things "right then and there" and "tak[ing] them with you". To include that information, to draw attention to it, rather than taking it as a given, shows an absurd joy in capitalism unheard of by a person raised in Western society in the last few hundred years. Let me pose this question: Have any of you at the bookstore website staff ever been to a store? Are you unfrozen cavemen or time-travelling knights of the round table? Are you tigers? It's okay if you are. You can tell me.

Thank you again, bookstore website, for giving me cause to stop and appreciate the system that I so often take for granted. The exchange of moneys for goods or services is a wonderful thing, except when the store doesn't have what you want in stock and also it's not at the library and you don't have time to order it from Amazon Marketplace and you don't know contact information for anybody in the class and so you're going to miss your first homework and fail out of life.

Again, I salute you and your entire staff of time-travelling circus fleas.

Laura Hughes


- Laura