I am obsessed with books. Big ones, small ones, old ones, new ones — except for Twilight, I love them all. So when I heard Barnes & Noble was opening shop on the Emory campus I was ecstatic. Now, a month into the school year, I’ve come down to earth as many of the store’s deficiencies have become apparent.
Let’s begin with the positives.
There’s a fiction section, a non-fiction section, and a spot for all the other genres generally found in a bookstore. Compared to the options we had last year between “random” and “text book,” this is a major improvement. So far, I’ve managed to restrain myself from buying every book I see, but come Fall Break, my wallet may be significantly lighter than it is now. Although I have access to over 2.2 million books through Woodruff Library, I am still excited about the fact that we have to buy books that people actually enjoy reading.
I’m especially glad to see the Children’s Corner tucked away in the back and decorated like a scene straight from The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This addition makes our bookstore more open to people of all ages, not just college students.
In addition to an increase in the variety of books, the selection of Emory-branded clothing, coffee mugs, flags and other paraphernalia easily surpasses the offerings we had before, dominating half of the third floor of the bookstore. In addition to holding the textbooks for the College, the Medical School and the Law School, the second floor boasts a variety of school supplies and has a computer nook specializing in Apple products. And then there’s the space! I never realized how small the bookstore at the DUC was, but when I compare the narrow aisles of yesteryear with the airy spaciousness of the snazzy new bookstore, I have but one reaction — yikes.
The increased size of the new bookstore also allows for multiple study areas. A layman wouldn’t normally take notice, but they are scattered throughout the new building. There is a gigantic study room reminiscent of the Matheson Reading Room in Candler Library. There, you can find a plethora of chairs, sofas, window seats and the occasional upperclassman napping. On the first floor, there are several reading niches interspersed among the stacks, as well as all the space in the gigantic Starbucks across the hall, which is another major noticeable perk.
With the building of the gigantic Starbucks in the bookstore, Emory now has the largest on-campus Starbucks in America. Half of the bookstore’s first floor is devoted to this kingdom of caffeine. The coffeehouse has overstuffed chairs and couches nestled up near stone fireplaces, both of which enhance the already cozy atmosphere. And there’s the added bonus of Starbucks accepting Dooley Dollars — at a 5 percent discount, no less.
Even still, there are some drawbacks. While I am happy to see the actual Barnes & Noble part of the Emory University Bookstore, I can’t help but be disappointed by how limited the book selection is. A bookstore dealing solely with books and not textbooks is at least four times as large as what is in the Oxford building. Even the Georgia Tech Barnes & Noble left enough space for double the amount of non-textbooks. I expected at least a comparable collection in ours.
Yes, the bookstore is located directly on Oxford Road. Yes, it has its own parking garage. Yes, it now houses the bulk of the Admissions Office. These three things add up to greater convenience for visiting prospective students and their families. However, the bookstore is one of the buildings located furthest away from most student dorms — students in Woodruff Hall have quite a walk to traverse the campus to the bookstore. For its intent of becoming a popular student haunt, the bookstore has chosen a location that ironically doesn’t allow current students to access it easily. At least the DUC location was in the middle of campus.
This isn’t to mention the lack of cell phone reception. This particular drawback annoys me the most out of everything. Out of all the major cell phone service companies, not one of them works inside the building. Even near the gigantic glass windows on the third floor. Is this a flaw in the building plan? Was it designed this way on purpose? Did they install cell phone jammers? Who knows. But with no cell service, students are more likely to move on to another place to study.
Ultimately, I’m more glad than not that the bookstore was built. But there’s always room for more improvement — maybe I’ll be happy when it expands to the size of Belle’s library from “Beauty and the Beast.”
Copy Chief Steffi Delcourt is a College sophomore from Saint Simons Island, Ga.