Why Students Continue To Leave The College Bookstore

Survey data highlights an 8-point increase in students shopping outside Akademos CFO Survey Data - Students Leaving The Bookstore
school-sanctioned bookstore since 2013 

Data from the 2017 College CFO Survey on Course Materials and Bookstore Services reveals that nearly half (46%) of survey participants reported that their students abandoned their school-sanctioned bookstore to shop elsewhere for course materials in 2017 – an 8-point increase since 2013’s CFO Survey results.

As the number of students leaving the college bookstore to purchase course materials on third-party online sites continues to rise, textbook sales across university and college bookstores continue to experience a decline. The CFO Survey shows that 83% of survey participants reported that textbook sales were “flat” or “down by more than 10%” in 2013, 91% in 2015 and 95% in 2017, with the number of respondents indicating that sales were “up by more than 10%” only diminishing over time.

But what is driving students away from their campus bookstore? 

  1. Price: According to 83% of survey participants, high textbook and course material prices continue to be the primary reason leading students to bypass the college bookstore to purchase course materials from third-party, non-school-affiliated competitors like Amazon.
  2. Convenience: In a technology-driven society, students want the convenience of “anytime, anywhere” shopping that is easily made available to them through online sites.
  3. Choice: Third-party online sites offer students a wide variety of inventory to choose from across new, used, rental, and digital textbook formats.

College bookstores can win back the trust and loyalty of their students if they are able to leverage the many potential advantages the school-sanctioned bookstore has over its non-affiliated, third-party counterparts. Below are a few of them:

  • The ability to offer a personalized experience for each student through integration with your institution’s student information system (SIS)
  • The ability to ensure the student is getting the right book (the exact ISBN that the faculty selected)
  • The ability to communicate with your students and send them reminders to purchase their course materials when it gets closer to the starting date of classes
  • The ability to provide format variety and choice on the full required booklist
  • The ability to provide payment flexibility, including the use of financial aid
  • The ability to provide students more competitive buyback programs


Request your free copy of the 2017 College CFO Survey on Course Materials & Bookstore Services 

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