Campus bookstores repositioning amid shifts in course materials market

Dive Brief:

  • Campus bookstores are changing with the times to stay relevant by incorporating tech-enabled practices, working closer with campus libraries and looking toward developing tech "e-stores," eCampus News reports.
  • Swarthmore College is an example of a campus bookstore that now offers a price comparison tool when ordering online, showing students ordering online the campus store's price for new and used copies of texts alongside the sometimes lower prices from online retailers such as Amazon, Abebooks and
  • Additionally, collaboration with campus libraries facing their own funding struggles allows the campus bookstore to tap potential copies of books for rental or lending in various formats.

Dive Insight:

The growing use of digital course materials has presented a challenge for campus bookstores. While they still serve a purpose when it comes to selling campus-themed clothing and paraphernalia, the loss of textbook revenue presents a significant challenge — and a potential reduction of space needed. 

Providing an online hub for digital transactions regardless of the material's format is a must today, but showing price comparisons can also serve as a boost in consumer trust from students, as they may end up more likely to buy the campus store's used copy even if a new one is priced similarly from another retailer, even after factoring in shipping costs. But an online hub for tech products makes even more sense if the bookstore is able to offer necessary products including Microsoft Office or, in some cases, Adobe Creative Suite, to students at a discounted price, as those differences can be even more significant for student budgets than textbooks. Ultimately for campus bookstores, these moves all come down to demonstrating value and trust to students by reinforcing that they serve a mission of putting students' needs first in their learning experience.

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Filed Under: Higher Ed Technology
Top image credit: Flickr user wohnai