The return from winter break is one of those things that sticks in my mind every year. Everyone comes back with a completely different attitude.

Angela Cesere

Returning to school after winter break is like watching a movie, leaving the room and forgetting to stop it. When you return, it’s in a different place and you aren’t sure how it got that way.

Students coming back from winter break feel the same way.

When they leave, it was all business all the time, with the constant strain surrounding exams; but now, they have the same carefree attitude as they did during Welcome Week. You aren’t sure how this happened, but it did.

But with the beginnings of a new semester come the problems I have every year. My biggest issue with the beginning of a new semester is getting books, paying for books and, most importantly, waiting for books.

The other day I began my quest for books at Shaman Drum. I’m an English major, so I spend a good amount of time there. But why does it seem like the smallest bookstore in Ann Arbor has the most books in it?

Don’t take this the wrong way. Shaman Drum is a cool place. It’s a little nook in a world dominated by conglomerates like Borders’ and Barnes and Noble. You don’t see Shaman Drum anywhere else. It’s one of those stores that you could only find in a place like Ann Arbor.

I must admit that I am biased. I live across campus from Shaman Drum, so we started out on the wrong foot. I would rather go to Ulrich’s which is literally down the street from me.

So on this fateful afternoon I decided to trek to State Street. I reached the corner of North University and State to see a line going out the door. My step slowed and mood completely altered. Although I should’ve known better, I made the walk to Shaman Drum thinking that this was going to be an in-and-out affair. I wasn’t in the mental state to deal with that line.

But I walked to the back of it anyway. It was a good thing I decided to wear an extra shirt because it was chilly out. I looked ahead to see if I knew anyone I could talk to. Really, I wanted to meet someone who I could casually chat with and cut behind in line. It’s a tried and true method when buying books.

Unfortunately, I knew nobody in line. It was inching forward just enough for me to stay in it. I was still cold, still bored. But there was a light at the end of this line.

I entered the door only to realize the line was even longer than I thought. I had completely forgotten that it goes up the staircase. By this time I was completely frustrated. I couldn’t believe what was supposed to be a half-hour excursion was turning into an hour-long ordeal. It was like waiting in line at Disney World. You had heard so many good things about the ride, so you waited in the ridiculous two-hour line. But then once you got off, you were like, “Why the hell did I wait two hours for a minute and a half of this overrated piece of crap?”

Honestly, I waited because I wasn’t sure what would happen if I didn’t. I could have taken the easy way out and left the line, but I would just be delaying the inevitable. Eventually I needed to conquer it if I was going to have a successful semester.

I decided to vent my discontent with the girl standing in front of me. We both had the same qualms about the Shaman Drum line. Why do some classes only stock books at Shaman Drum? Why isn’t there some kind of university bookstore that has every book for every class? After our conversation I realized I’m not the only one who hates the way we buy books here.

So, I set out to solve the mystery: why does Shaman Drum gets so much business despite the fact it has ridiculous lines?

Most of the books found at Shaman Drum are not textbooks. Usually they’re novels, or short stories that a person can get at any bookstore. I was told once that if everybody bought their books online, the lines wouldn’t be that long.

But generally students don’t know their books until they get a syllabus. If you buy books online they usually won’t arrive for a few business days. Then you’ve already missed the first couple of readings that the class has discussed.

Not to mention that buying books is sort of a college tradition. Everyone does it. I never would have met that girl without the absurd Shaman line. Although I didn’t even get the girl’s number or name, if I see her at some random party on campus, I’ll remember her because of the connection we fostered through our hatred for lines.

I wonder why some teachers make their books available only at Shaman Drum. Do they give these teachers a kickback? Or is there something more to this bookstore?

We have 16 libraries on campus. I can personally say I have been to four of them. And I think that four is more than most students. So why can’t we turn one of these 16 libraries into the University bookstore?

I don’t think it would be very hard to turn one into a bookstore. I mean, books are books. I haven’t been to a library in a while, but I think they still use bookcases, so that’s covered. In a naA_ve sense, all the school needs to buy is cash registers. Everything is taken care of.

So as you’re waiting in line to pay for the last of those school supplies for the coming semester, think about how nice a lineless bookstore would be. I hope you’re sick of waiting in line for books that probably won’t get opened anyways.


Giannotto can be reached by e-mail at mgiann@umich.edu.

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