Anna-Maria Draganova wins an iPad and iPhone in a raffle. UTM Bookstore

Anna-Maria Draganova, a first-year UTM student in life sciences, won the U of T Bookstore’s back-to-school contest for a free iPhone and iPad. The contest, which was open to all U of T faculty, students, and staff, drew approximately 10, 000 participants across all three campuses.

“I filled one out [a ballot] in the CCT building going to my chemistry lecture,” said Draganova, who was all smiles when she came into the bookstore on the morning of November 16 to collect her prize. She filled out a ballot, thinking it would be just like any other contest. She had no idea that she would actually win. “When they called me, I was still at home. So it was quite the awakening, I must say.”

That morning, Christine Peart, UTM’s  bookstore manager, and Chad Saunders, the VP Retail for U of T Press, awarded Draganova with the prize. Draganova was required to answer a skill-testing question before qualifying for the prize.

In early September, U of T hosted the contest to promote the newly-renovated computer shop at the St. George campus’ bookstore. Participants had to fill out a ballot completely, with a limit of only one ballot per person, to be eligible for the prize. The contest ran from early September to the end of October. All the ballots were collected from each campus. The lucky ballot was then drawn from the bunch.

“The focus is the computer shop and raising awareness on what we carry that people are not really aware of,” said Peart, who has been trying to expand the clothing shop at the UTM bookstore ever since she became the manager. “The bookstore is not usually the place they go to for technology, but we want to be that place. We want people to know we offer these great deals here at UTM rather than make that trip to Best Buy.”

Saunders said, “The idea was to raise awareness that the bookstore does have a lot more than books.

We have a lot more available. We had the iPhone 4 available on launch day in Canada. We have everything students need. The landscape has changed so much for students now. For us to have that technology for students is really important.”

Saunders revealed “one of the best-kept secrets” of the UTM bookstore, which is that the bookstore actually has better bargains on the latest technology than the stores most people go to first when they are searching for computers, cell phones, MP3 players, printers, etc. Saunders believes students should come to the bookstore first for their gadgets and supplies, rather than elsewhere which sells what they need for much higher prices.

“Our computers are somewhere between $100 to $200 cheaper than the computers at Best Buy, depending on the model,” said Saunders. “Why go to Best Buy if we’re cheaper? It’s really in the students’ best interest to come here.”

Jim Voz runs the computer shop at UTM. He encourages students to come in and take a look at what UTM’s bookstore has to offer besides textbooks and course material.

“Students can actually physically come here and look at the computers on display. What you see here is actually the tip of the iceberg,” said Voz. “We actually have access to much more technology than you see here. I’d be happy to help you with any questions. Just come in and ask.”