Charge system use declines

By Matt Michalek

Although local bookstore officials said book rush has been uneventful, use of the charge system has been on the decline.

Mitch Kielb, University Bookstore director, said the biggest difference this semester is a decline in the use of the charge system. This is due to a new state law which limits the number of people eligible to use the system, he said.

The law allows only students who receive financial assistance to utilize the charge card system.

However, Kielb said this did not affect sales much because most students who expected to use the charge system were able to pay with cash instead.

Village Commons Bookstore owner Richard Boardman spearheaded the drive last summer to get the bill passed, claiming the system created an unfair advantage because NIU could withhold diplomas if students did not pay their debts.

Budget cuts also affected the University Bookstore. Class sections that were planned for the spring semester were cut over break, he said.

As a result, the Bookstore had a lot of used books they bought back at the end of the fall semester that will not be sold, he said.

Boardman said this semester has been flat as far as sales go.

“Students are tending to put off purchasing books until the last minute, and this slows down business,” he said.

VCB is no longer offering its credit card. “People who have it can still use it, but we are taking no new applicants,” Boardman said.

Both Kielb and Boardman said they believe the sluggish economy has slowed down book sales.

Both bookstores had extended hours for the first two weeks of the semester. “The first week (of extended hours) was convenient for students, but we had less traffic during the second week,” Kielb said.

The University Bookstore also sponsored a bus from the bookstore to the residence halls during move-in days. “I’m not sure how many rode it, but I know it was used,” Kielb said.