The ceiling-high mountain of tenth-edition Samuelson "Economics" texts stood in contrast to the empty shelves from which several hundred copies of Morrison and Boyd's "Organic Chemistry" had already disappeared.
It was the Coop's social event of the year--the annual three-day whirlwind clearance sale of texts to Harvard students at anything but sale prices.
And, lemming-like, the students came all day.
One Harvard sophomore said that all the remaining books for Chem 20, "Organic Chemistry," had vanished less than one-half hour after the class met this morning.
In other areas, it was business as usual, although several book salesmen reported a somewhat lower student turnout than on previous opening days.
"We were expecting a crush, and it didn't happen," Eric Lee, a Coop book department worker said. "It was a lot busier here the first day that Tufts started than it was today."
The size of the pre-dinner crowd--lounging in the aisles, discussing courses, and waiting on lines both real and imaginary--failed to support Lee's earlier contention.
Hundreds of students, many of them soaked from the late-afternoon rain, waited patiently for a chance to surrender earnings, scholarship money, or parental windfalls to the Coop's fully computerized cash registers--and fully frazzled salespeople.
"If I don't buy them now they won't be there when the time comes and I need them," Gilbert Fleitas '79, who stood on a growing line, said while carrying an assortment of textbooks.
He continued with a string of rationalizations for his first day jaunt to the book annex. "Just buying them piecemeal, you don't really feel you're starting," he said. "Besides, it hits you how much you're spending when you buy them all at once, so you know you'd better use them all."
"Besides, no one will lend you the books, especially the way the Gov department is, so you have to buy them all," he added.
Standing in a nearby queue, carrying no fewer than 26 books and sweating profusely was Fritz Engebretsen '76-3.
"Only three of these are for me," he explained. "The rest of these are for a friend--I registered for him, and now I'm buying his books."
"My bill will be close to $100--I feel like a damn fool--I hope they give me a bag for this," he added.
Ed Mansfield '78 waited nearby, holding only a few books. Behind him stood Frank Fukuyama, a graduate student in the Gov Department, also holding a few books.
"I wouldn't be caught dead in this store on the first day of classes, but I thought I'd do him a favor," Fukuyama said, indicating his companion.
Jonathan Silver '79 waited patiently at the end of a longish line, struggling under a 24-book load.
"I'm buying these on the assumption that I'll be returning a large percentage of them," Silver explained. "I can peruse them at home, and I can't do that here, and some of these books are what I hope to be the foundation of my future library."
Robert W. Dubois '77, a biochemistry concentrator, had mixed feelings about the first-day rush of which he was a part.
"Only freshmen and those who are insecure buy their books on the opening day of classes," he said. "But it is one of the social events of the year.