The original goal of the Coop was to provide students with the books and supplies they needed at the lowest possible price. But the Coop itself has demonstrated over the past decade that a monopoly is no longer the way to save students money.
For the last century, Harvard has provided the Coop with a list of all the books required for its classes. The Harvard Bookstore, Wordsworth and Barillaris have all had to fight for market share despite the disadvantage of not being given the exclusive catalog of sure-sellers. Barillaris folded as a result, and the Harvard Bookstore may be on the way.
If Harvard simply provided the Square's stores with class reading lists, all bookstores would be forced to lower prices by at least 10 percent in order to compete.
Bringing in Barnes and Noble to manage the Coop is just a stop-gap measure. The Coop has already dramatically demonstrated that, when possible, the market should not be interfered with. The orginal concept of the Coop--that the students should be given a rebate--has been compromised. The Coop is no longer a cooperative. It should become just another competitor in the Square.