Is the college bookstore a dying enterprise?
- The New York Times reports on the growth of corporate bookstore management on college campuses nationwide, as purchasing options and open source materials grow in availability and usage.
- The bookstore now serves as a drop point for students to pick up materials ordered online, but some critics say that when the wrong materials are shipped, or when students who use financial aid funds to purchase books from student accounts have difficulty, the convenience doesn't outweigh the hassle.
- Amazon operates 12 pick up locations on college campuses nationwide, with plans to expand to 17 university stores by next year.
The evolution of the college bookstore is another sign of the technological age infiltrating industry. Now that students can shop for cheaper course materials from an unlimited number of textbook wholesalers online, campuses will find a significant chunk of their auxiliary profits being siphoned away by convenience.
But more importantly, is this a sign of further profit marginalization in campus business? Campuses could easily begin negotiations with corporations like Best Buy and Coca-Cola to operate kiosks in stores, rather than staff to receive, stock and sell shipped tech or food items. FedEx Kinkos could pay to host printing and copying services, and apparel vendors could take the same approach with Collegiate Licensing Company products as booksellers have taken. In an era where campuses are looking at all ways to monetize campus operations, this may be the next wave of revenue bearing enterprise for higher education.