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Redesigned Coop Has Unfulfilled Potential


If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, chances are...The newly-renovated Coop book building, which opened Friday after extensive renovations, features the same signs, discount stickers and display shelves used in Barnes and Noble superstores nationwide. But that's just fine with us. The new Coop, like its official Barnes & Noble cousins, is tasteful, convenient and well-stocked-a welcome addition to the heart of Harvard Square.

In fact, if all the Coop did was replace the starchy white shirts and gray Woolrich sweaters with shelves and shelves of books, we would be happy. But the Coop bookstore, operated on a day-to-day basis by Barnes & Noble under Coop management, has made other improvements as well. First, the book building is now open until 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, convenient for late-night bookworms. Second, the bright cafe on the second floor offers an ample number of tables for eating, reading or chatting with friends or TFs. Third, like other Barnes & Nobles, the Coop now offers decent discounts: 15 percent off all hardcovers, 20 percent off new releases and 30 percent off Coop best sellers. Finally, the broad selection of both academic and general interest texts will give other square bookstores a run for their money.

Two improvements, however, would make the new Coop more friendly to the student population. First, the store needs more comfortable seating. Book superstores around the country provide shoppers soft chairs and couches and ample space to sprawl on the carpet, bridging the gap between bookstore and living room-a fact the Coop seemingly ignored in the redesign. The new store is cool and spatially tight, and is dotted not with couches but with the stiff, wooden Harvard chairs found in some classrooms and dorm rooms, hardly inviting us to sit and stay awhile.

Second, the new book building's hours should be extended still later, to midnight on Friday and Saturday at the least, like the Harvard Book Store. Students could then meet for coffee at the cafe or have time to browse after a movie or play. More comfortable seating and later hours would cap off the improvements, making the renovated store the truly "collegiate Coop" it has aspired to become.

We have yet to see what the Barnes & Noble takeover will do to the prices of textbooks. But the Coop must have lower textbook prices in order to accommodate students. We will be watching you, Coop. Support students like the supposed cooperative you are and keep the textbook prices low.

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