The dynamic of college stores is constantly changing based on the evolving needs of students and the growing popularity of online outlets. With digital content available for nearly all instructional materials, college bookstores are facing multiple challenges to provide the materials needed by students at a reduced cost to compete with the multiple retail sources for this content. Students are demanding lower-cost alternatives to current printed textbook options and many students are already buying or renting their textbooks online for a fraction of the cost that would be found at the college bookstore.
A U.S. PIRG Education Fund survey found that 65% of college students have refused to purchase textbooks due to price; 94% of those say they’ve suffered academically as a result.
Too many students don’t acquire their course’s required textbooks and are now coming to class unprepared. With so much technology at our fingertips, other options have been adopted by universities and Open Educational Resources have become more widely used and accepted.
Open Educational Resources (OER) are materials used to support education that can be freely accessed and shared by anyone. The intellectual property and copyrights of the OER belong to the creator, but it is licensed to make it freely available. Allowing students to access OER will drastically cut down on the funds students need to allocate for textbooks.
As OER becomes more popular, it’s important to have open communication between faculties so you are up-to-date on the current courses that offer OER. This information will allow you to anticipate the needs of your students and provide them with the best solutions.
Despite a loss in textbook revenue, you can still boost your bottom line by changing your store’s focus. Promote products that will add value and assist your students in their daily lives. By relieving your students of any unnecessary purchases they may be more apt to spend that money on products in the store. Be knowledgeable of any digital or OER offerings so you can assist your students and provide solutions. Developing that trust will in turn create a loyal customer.