Campus Closeup: Paul Wright
“The value of a textbook is measured by degrees,” reads a bumper sticker posted in Paul Wright’s office. As the assistant manager of the NMU Bookstore, textbooks are his primary concern. He says textbooks are critical to student success and he enjoys working with books for a living. In fact, his job fuels his love of reading.
“We have a great remainder section in our bookstore and that adds to my list. I read pretty much everything in print; I’ve been known to sit and read a textbook at home because it was $1 and I could. I have a lot of interest in different things, like history and science fiction,” Wright said.
At any given time, he is in the midst of three to four books. Wright keeps pleasure reads in his car, his office and at various locations within his home. Although he has difficulty pinpointing a favorite author, Wright enjoys science fiction authors Orson Scott Card and Isaac Asimov.
Wright’s interest in reading traces back to a fourth-grade reading project. For every book he read that year, a sticker would go on the ceiling tile above his desk. He wanted to fill his up completely and by the end of the year, he had three or four ceiling tiles full of stickers.
These days, keeping a full stock of used textbooks occupies his time. About 60 percent of the winter semester’s textbooks were used textbooks, Wright estimates. Getting a good selection of used books takes time. He asks for book requisitions early to get his pick of used books from textbook companies.
“Our goal is to always provide as many used books as possible, so we go looking for them,” Wright said.
Once he has a list compiled of the books he is looking for, Wright sends "want lists" out to companies. Finding enough books for all the students enrolled in each class can be tricky for a few reasons. First, not every student buys textbooks. If they do buy books, many choose to look online for deals rather than buy through the bookstore. And enrollment numbers fluctuate, with students adding or dropping early in the upcoming semester.
During summer orientation, Wright enjoys interacting with incoming students and parents to show them what the bookstore is working on and how it helps students.
“I can talk to them about books, about how the books fit into their education and how our bookstore can help them through lots of different services to do better in their education. If a student can just go to one place for all their course needs, it saves them huge time and effort to get their stuff at one place,” Wright said.
In addition to working with books, Wright serves as an occasional adjunct history instructor. He taught HS 126 The United States to 1865 in the fall. His bachelor’s degree is in both biology and history and his master’s is in history. He loves teaching and hopes to have the opportunity to do so again.
“I like working in universities and colleges. I like the feeling of academia and being part of it in my way in the bookstore is great, but when I can also be a part of it from a faculty side, it’s a totally different interaction with the campus and with the students,” Wright said.