Self-operated bookstores are becoming increasingly burdened by the complex requirements of managing course materials from negotiating prices with multiple publishers, to navigating state textbook regulations, competing with online sellers, and managing custom course packs and digital materials. Fast-evolving textbook service demands can strain staff and resources.
As technology permeates more and more aspects of our lives, colleges and universities continue to implement new programs and tools to help administration, faculty, and students simplify their day. Most schools have software systems for managing everything from admissions to finances to curriculum, but when it comes to the adoption and purchasing of course materials, many institutions still use a manual process through a physical store.
Operating a campus store can be a complex task, especially when it comes to providing textbooks and course materials. From managing adoptions to working with publishers to the logistics of inventory, back orders, and returns, it can be immensely difficult to ensure that every textbook is made available to students in multiple formats, at an affordable price. College students are some of the most price-sensitive shoppers in the world, so it comes as no surprise that textbook revenues at the campus bookstore continue to decline as students shop around. Losing students to other shopping platforms causes wasted time and resources and hurts institutional programs that depend on bookstore revenue. In addition, when students purchase outside the campus bookstore, the school loses important information on student preparedness that can be used as a data point to analyze retention and graduation rates.
Textbook prices are on the rise and students realize that not obtaining the required course materials will affect their academic performance. There are many financial burdens students face while in college and they sometimes have to choose between purchasing textbooks or paying for food, rent, or other everyday necessities. While many colleges are working to utilize more OER (Open Educational Resources) as course material, the availability is limited for more advanced level courses. Lower cost alternatives are being provided more and more from publishers, but most of the time students don't utilize the same publishers across their various classes and students end up sharing textbooks, making copies of chapters, or just not acquiring the materials at all.
One big question can weigh on the minds of college administration and faculty at smaller institutions - how can we reduce the costs of textbooks without having the purchasing power to command lower prices? Even with the existence of online retailers who can offer significant savings, there is the additional struggle to make sure the materials students are using their hard earned money on are usable and effective.
Improved visibility, flexibility, and cost savings to benefit CSE faculty and students
With any educational institution, administration and faculty play a crucial role in ensuring students are prepared for the first day of class. The two groups must work together to build enough lead time ahead of class start dates so that faculty can then research, select, and share required and optional course material information with their students. This in turn allows students enough time to shop for the best prices - a necessary process for students to obtain affordable textbooks and be prepared to achieve success from the very start.