Frequently Asked Questions

In ordering course books, our primary concern is to have sufficient quantities of the books you ordered for your students on our shelves when courses begin for a term. There are many factors involved in accomplishing this task successfully each term. Below you will find a list of topics which are designed to highlight some of these issues and also to help clarify some of the items requested on the order form. You may also browse our list of Coursebook Ordering Topics.

If there is a question that you have which is not addressed below, feel free to contact the Course Book Manager at (773)752-4381 or by email: texts@semcoop.com.

Order Deadline

We ask that orders be placed by the 7th week of classes preceding a new quarter. Please submit orders for any foreign titles at least eight weeks before a term begins. Having your order to us within these time frames allows us the time to process the orders we receive and let you know of any problems that may arise. (see Availability Issues) It also allows the time for you to make any alternative arrangements.

We ask for orders by the 7th week of classes preciting a new quarter because of delays which often occur with publishers' fulfillment of orders and to help fulfill the requirement of the Higher Education and Opportunity Act.

Especially with the Fall and Winter terms, publishers experience a high volume of orders because educational institutions on both the quarter and semester systems are ordering books. Also, at the end of December many publishers close for several days for the holidays or year-end inventories.

The Seminary Co-op Bookstore handles over four hundred courses each term. This means that thirty to forty thousand books have to be unpacked, priced, and shelved in a very short span of time. Early placement of orders allows us the time necessary to physically undertake this task, and to do so accurately so that the books are ready for purchase by your students before the term begins. It also allows us to plan to keep any unsold copies from the previous term that may be needed.

Submitting your orders by the requested deadline each term enables us to provide a better service for you and your students.

If you would like to be on our mailing list for e-mail reminders for course book orders, contact the Course Book Manager.

Availability Issues

Periodically, publishers will be unable to fulfill an order for a title, immediately or at all, or they can only fulfill an order at terms which are not intended for the text book trade. Below is a brief explanation of potential order availability problems which may arise with an order. The Course Book Manager will inform you if any problems arise with the titles on your order. We try to communicate as much information to you as possible about problematic titles so you are able to plan around unforeseen circumstances. Please keep in mind that timely placement of orders can eliminate some types of availability issues and can reduce the stress involved when making alternative arrangements.

Out of Print Titles - Once a publisher has declared a title out of print, they no longer have copies to sell to bookstores. We will be happy try to order a replacement title or you may choose to make other arrangements for having the readings available for your students.

Out of stock titles - Publishers frequently run out of stock on titles they carry. Sometimes a publisher is in the process of reprinting a title or has plans to do so. Often they have estimated dates for when they expect more copies to become available for shipping. Sometimes a publisher does not have any current plans to reprint the book or they have no information about when they expect more copies. Other times a publisher needs to transfer stock from an overseas warehouse which will delay an order arrival by 2-6 weeks. Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press frequently have such delays. We are happy to leave titles on backorder if the publisher's scheduled due date is compatible with your syllabus. Please keep in mind that all publisher due dates are only estimates and reflect when a publisher expects it to be available on their end, not at the bookstore.

On-demand titles - Increasingly in the book trade publishers are turning to on-demand technology to make titles available for purchase. A publisher effectively makes a decision no longer to stock a title in their warehouse and will have a copy (or copies) printed only in response to a specific order. Some publishers are able to fulfill such orders with only a few days delay for the printing but many have delays of up to 3-4 weeks.

A further complication with many on-demand orders is that the publishers do not accept returns of unsold copies of print-on-demand books, as they would with their normal stock. Since we have no idea of how many students will actually purchase books we order as texts, we generally cannot order such non-returnable ones. However, we evaluate each print-on-demand book on a title by title basis. We will determine if we can stock some copies or if it would be better to have students special order the title if they are certain they would like to purchase it.

Restrictive publisher's terms - Some publishers have very restrictive terms of sale to bookstores that are ordering books for courses. Often these restrictive terms involve policies of no or very limited returns or even returns penalties. The standard practice of most publishers in the text book trade is to accept returns of unsold copies. Since we have no real idea of how many students will actually purchase books we order as texts, we generally cannot order such non-returnable ones and we must be very conservative in ordering those with limited returns or penalties. As with on-demand titles, we evaluate titles from restrictive publishers on a case by case basis.

Specific title information

Please provide us with as much information about a title as possible. If you have any questions regarding which editions are currently available, price, or publisher, please feel free to contact the Course Book Manager for assistance.

Paperback and Hardcover editions

Where there is a choice of binding for a specific edition of a title, we will always order the paper edition.

Over-enrollment and Reorders

Each term there are several classes which attract many more people than originally anticipated. It would be very helpful if you could let us know as soon as possible if more books will be required. This way we will be able to reorder enough copies to meet the demand quickly. Please keep in mind that students often “shop” courses during the first weeks of classes which may inflate the enrollment briefly.

The delay for re-orders varies by publisher. Generally we can receive more stock from within a couple of days to a couple of weeks. Please contact the Course Book Manager if you are concerned about specific titles such as those books being used for your first readings.

Book Returns to Publishers

Each quarter a large number of course books remain unsold far into the term and we must return them in order to make room for books for the next term. Only a few of these titles are kept for the following term, and only if we are aware of the fact before the returning begins.

We begin returning current course books to the publishers during the 6th week of courses. If you could mention this to your students, it may help prevent some last minute shoppers from being disappointed. Also, please remember that timely placement of your course book orders for the following term will allow us to keep any leftover copies of titles currently being used and to avoid the time and expense of unnecessary returns and reorders of titles.

Desk Copies

In order to receive Desk Copies for any title on your order, you will need to contact the publishers directly. Desk copy requests should be placed with the publisher at the same time as you have placed your order with us. Click here to download a sample Desk Copy Order Form for sending your request to the publisher. Most publishers have the address and fax number to which desk copy requests should be sent on their website. If you have any questions regarding the contact information for a particular publisher, feel free to contact the Course book Manager. Policies regarding desk copies vary widely from publisher to publisher.

Order Confirmation

All orders will be confirmed via e-mail. If you do not receive a confirmation within a few days please contact the Course Book Manager in case there has been some technological or other problem.

Partial Book Orders

You need not have decided on all the titles for your course in order to place a course book order. If you are not decided on the complete list of books for your course, we are happy to accept an initial order for those titles which you are sure of and would like us to get started ordering.

Please be as certain as you can before placing your orders that you will indeed be using the titles for your course. Please try also to order all the titles you will be using for your course at least several weeks before the term begins, even if a title will be used later in the term. Having your completed order to us before the start of classes will help to prevent any possible confusion for students which result from discrepancies between syllabus they receive in class and the list you provide to us.

It has been our experience that students are less inclined to wait to purchase books from the Co-op if they are not on the shelf at the beginning of the term. Often they would like to avoid the rush or get a head start in their reading. Please help us to have your students' books available for purchase by ordering all the titles for your class well in advance of the beginning of the term. If, however, you have not completed your reading list by the start of the term, or if the progress of the class suggests that you add or drop a title, we can certainly accommodate that.

For titles additional to your initial order, simply check the box on the course book order form indicating that the present order is in addition to one previously placed.


Please estimate the enrollment for your course. This information is an important factor in determining how many copies to order for your course. We understand that registration figures are usually not available until towards the beginning of the term. However, your department or the registrar often will be able to help with an estimate based on preregistration figures, enrollment caps, or past enrollments. Closer to the beginning of the term, please let us know if the actual enrollment changes significantly from your initial estimate.

Sharing your list with other stores

If you have placed your order with another bookstore or if you suggest to your students that they order books on-line, please let us know so that we can adjust our ordering.

Required versus Suggested titles

On your order, we ask you to categorize each title as either "required" or "suggested" reading. To distinguish between the two, please consider how heavily you intend the book to be used for the course and whether or not students will wish to purchase it. Generally, required titles are those which you will require students to read entirely or mostly. Suggested titles are those which you recommend as background, related, or supplemental reading for the course or from which only small portions will be read. These distinctions between titles will help students in making their decision on what to purchase.

Please note that “required” is listed as the default on the order form and will need to be changed to “suggested” if applicable.

How long does it take for orders to arrive?

Order arrival varies from publisher to publisher. If you have a particular concern please contact the Course Book Manager for an estimate.

Will you notify me when the books come in?

Because of the sheer volume of books arriving at the store within such a limited period of time we are currently unable to notify you when each title of your order arrives. You can assume that your books will be here in time for the first day of classes unless we notify you that there is a problem with your order. You are welcome to check on your order nearer to the beginning of the term if you have any particular concerns.

For orders placed after the bookstore's requested deadline, we will do our best to get the books in as soon as possible. The Course Book Manager can give you an estimated time of arrival if you need more specific information.

How will I know if the books I've ordered are available and will be at the bookstore by the start of the term?

You can assume that the books will be available for your students to begin purchasing by the start of rush unless we notify you of problems with the order. For orders placed by the deadline, most books arrive well before the first day of classes. If you need to have the books available for students by a certain date, please let us know. (See also availability issues.)

How can I place an order?

You are welcome to place your orders by whichever means is most convenient. You may send your completed course book order form to us via U.S. mail, faculty exchange, or fax (773-752-8507), or it may be dropped off at the bookstore. You can send the information via e-mail at texts@semcoop.com or phone it in to us at 773-752-4381. Orders can also be place on our website, www.semcoop.com. At the home page, go to "Course Books" on the left-hand side bar and follow the link to Instructor Ordering.

Course book order forms can be picked up at the bookstore, sent to you, or they can be downloaded from the Course Books section of our website.

Address: Seminary Co-op Bookstore
Attn: Course Book Manager
5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: 773-752-7381
Fax: 773-752-8507
E-mail: texts@semcoop.com
Website: www.semcoop.com

Do you have a special form that I need to fill out for my course book order?

We do have a form that we ask you to use when placing your orders. However, it is intended as more of a guideline for placing your orders. If you choose not to send us the form, please submit all the information requested on it as a part of your order.

How can I indicate special directions or concerns on an order?

Our on-line form has a special section for including any comments you may wish to communicate to us concerning your order. If you are sending us a paper copy of the bookstore's order form you are welcome to jot down any notes in the margins or to attach any notes to it. You are also welcome to speak directly with the Course Book Manager by phone or to send an e-mail to us at texts@semcoop.com.

Why does the Seminary Co-op need my book order so far in advance to the start of the term?

ith the passing of the Higher Education and Opportunity Act into law we are working with the University of Chicago to post the information they need to have to be in compliance. Since the law sates that course books be listed in time for pre-registration and registration we need the orders at least a week before the pre-registration dates set by the University. In addition, acquiring the books which you request for your courses necessarily takes time so that we can ensure the right books, in the right quantities are ordered and received. There are many steps between when your order is submitted and when the books arrive on the shelves in the text aisle. The process includes researching the books, placing orders with publishers, notifying instructors of any problems, checking on orders, unpacking orders, verifying the accuracy of what the publisher sends against what was ordered, and shelving the books. This process must also allow for the varying times it takes for the publishers' own processes of fulfilling and shipping orders. (See also, Order deadline; Availability Issues)

How does the Seminary Co-op decide on how many books to order?

To help determine the precise quantity in ordering, there are a number of factors which we must consider in making our decision. Some of these are:

* the estimated enrollment for the course
* whether the titles are required or suggested
* the past sales of titles for the course
* the availability of the titles from other sources (e.g. used and on-line bookstores)
* the publisher's penalties and policies regarding returning unsold copies

Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Ave. // Chicago, IL 60637
773.752.4381 // info@semcoop.com
Hours: M-F 8:30-8, Sa 10-6, Su Noon-6

57th Street Books
1301 E. 57th St. // Chicago, IL 60637
773.684.1300 // fiftysev@semcoop.com
Hours: 10-8 daily