News and Insights on College Textbooks, Course Materials & Bookstore Services

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3 Signs Your Campus Bookstore Is Ready For a Hybrid Bookstore Solution

Keeping your on-campus college bookstore prices down and sales revenue up is becoming more difficult with each passing year. As the traditional market for textbooks has shifted, many on-campus college stores have experienced a significant loss in sales and in some cases have stopped selling textbooks altogether.

Akademos has a unique vantage point in the market. Over the last 3 years, we reviewed the textbook sales data from a range of on-campus bookstores nationwide and found a median decrease of 19%. These trends are consistent over a wide variety of institution types (e.g. community colleges, liberal arts institutions, faith based institutions, etc.).

As an online retailer, we strongly believe that the future of college bookstores can operate successfully and offer significant value with a hybrid bookstore solution. The model includes:

  • An innovative virtual bookstore and adoption & analytics platform (operated by Akademos)
  • An on-campus retail shop for general merchandise (e.g., supplies, apparel, spirit items, emblematic wear, food, accessories, etc.) and other services (operated by a third-party vendor or the college)

Through our experience, many different colleges and universities have successfully transitioned to a hybrid bookstore solution and have seen significant profit gain and increases in student success. If your institution is assessing its bookstore operations, here are 3 telltale signs that it might be time to transition:

1. Declining textbook & course material sales

In our 2017 College CFO Survey, 95% of survey respondents reported sales were either flat or down by more than 10%, continuing a trend of declining sales.

This trend directly mirrors what happened in the retail bookstore space 15+ years ago. Retail booksellers in the 90’s and 2000’s started to feel the pull of forces in their business as new competitors emerged online. 
These online competitors could simply price books at more attractive rates by removing the costs of a physical space and labor while offering much more inventory on hand. Despite their best efforts, physical bookstores started to shut down in large numbers.


2. An inadequate transition plan to digital books & course materials

Already, approximately 20% of instructional materials on college campuses are digital and this number is expected to rise to 40%+ in the next 5 years. What does the bookstore of the future look like when nearly half of academic materials aren’t books?

3. Obscure course material adoption process

Bookstores should provide faculty an easy and convenient way for faculty to understand the costs of the textbooks they are adopting and be able to perform this task in a matter of minutes.  Administrators should have visibility into data and statistics related to which departments, and at a higher level, their institution is faring as far as adoptions.

In the 2017 Academic Leadership Survey, 47% of respondents surveyed reported that their current school-sanctioned bookstore is not “extremely” or “very” effective at providing the course material adoption tools needed to support strategic plan items in addressing textbook affordability and supporting student success.

Understanding what strategies can be employed to create a positive outcome is important. If you are interested in learning more about our hybrid bookstore solution and understanding how your institution can benefit, please contact our solution specialist today.

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