The on-campus bookstore has long been a centerpiece of the institution for students, parents, faculty, and alumni. Not only a place to purchase things like course materials and school-branded memorabilia, the campus bookstore also serves as a social hub and community resource.
Yet changing market dynamics and shifting education models are causing schools to rethink their store’s overall role. More students are shopping online for textbooks and other course materials, and as a result, some campus stores are experiencing declining course materials revenue, despite overhead and operational costs remaining constant.
While it’s extremely challenging for on-campus bookstores to compete with online pricing given the store’s operational costs, schools are questioning if, in fact, course materials need to be part of their on-campus inventory. Many schools are reimagining what the bookstore can be and finding that they can repurpose their stores for other student services so it still remains a social hub.
For price-conscious students, who are likely a significant piece of the student population, affordability is high on their list. In fact, of the students who don’t purchase at least one of their assigned materials, 57 percent say it is due to price, according to the 2020 Student Watch™: Attitudes and Behaviors toward Course Materials report. Numerous students are bypassing campus bookstores and shopping online to save money.