Student Demand for Affordable Textbooks Growing Survey Finds

June 29th, 2013 No Comments Other


An ever increasing number of students are purchasing textbooks from online, third-party book providers rather than campus-based bookstores in order to save money, according to a recent survey by Akademos, Inc, a leading virtual bookstore for educational institutions.

The survey looked at online vs. brick-and-mortar bookstores, college bookstore revenue trends and predictions for the future of textbook sales as part of the college store business model. Respondents consisted of college CFOs and VPs of finance.

Of those surveyed, 89% confirmed that students are more frequently purchasing books from online providers where textbooks can be obtained at lower prices.

The majority (78%) of CFOs felt that the cost is the primary reason that college students are looking for alternatives to college bookstores, while a smaller number of respondents (12%) believed that students these days are more inclined to purchase online.

Textbooks accounted for about 68% of bookstore sales at schools surveyed, and of those textbook sales, half were new and one third were used books. Rentals made up about 14% of sales and eBooks accounted for just 4%.

Respondents rated student access to high-quality, low-cost textbooks as the most important service an institution can provide when it comes to textbook sales. Delivering required textbooks in a timely manner and providing a wider range of choice in textbook formats followed closely.

According to over 80% of college CFOs and VPs, textbook sales have been flat or down for the past three years, and when asked what they thought the future of textbooks in college bookstores would be, the majority (80%) stated that their school would likely utilize both an online and brick-and-mortar store for the sale of textbooks.

Only 18% indicated that they believed textbooks would be sold exclusively in their school’s online bookstore.

Akademos CEO John Squires commented on behalf of Akademos that “We’re surprised that only 18% of respondents predict their textbooks will be provided exclusively in an online bookstore in the future.”

Squires believes that this percentage will increase in the coming years, as administrators see that the cost of providing textbooks through  brick-and-mortar stores is simply not possible without passing on increased financial burdens to students.

“College CFOs are increasingly understanding that they must focus on both the quality and the value of the services their bookstores provide—especially given that textbook costs have a significant impact on student performance.”

Akademos believes that every student should have easy access to high-quality, low-cost textbooks, and has recently created a Textbook Affordability Index that ranked 1500 colleges and universities according to the affordability of their course materials by subject matter and among peer schools.

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Marianne Stenger is a London-based freelance writer and journalist with extensive experience covering all things learning and development. She’s particularly interested in the psychology of learning and how technology is changing the way we learn. Her articles have been featured by the likes of ABC Education, The Huffington Post, Lifehacker, and Psych Central. Follow her on Twitter @MarianneStenger.

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