Archive for February, 2012
Here are some qualities to keep an eye out for not only when looking for new hires but also when interacting with your current team. Be sure to thank and show appreciation for each employee who exhibits even one of these great characteristics – it can go a long way toward solidifying a successful and long-term team!
Great employees are reliable, dependable, proactive, diligent, great leaders and great followers… they possess a wide range of easily-defined—but hard to find—qualities.
A few hit the next level. Some employees are remarkable, possessing qualities that may not appear on performance appraisals but nonetheless make a major impact on performance.
Here are eight qualities of remarkable employees:
1. They ignore job descriptions. The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees can think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.
When a key customer’s project is in jeopardy, remarkable employees know without being told there’s a problem and jump in without being asked—even if it’s not their job.
2. They’re eccentric… The best employees are often a little different: quirky, sometimes irreverent, even delighted to be unusual. They seem slightly odd, but in a really good way. Unusual personalities shake things up, make work more fun, and transform a plain-vanilla group into a team with flair and flavor.
People who aren’t afraid to be different naturally stretch boundaries and challenge the status quo, and they often come up with the best ideas.
3. But they know when to dial it back. An unusual personality is a lot of fun… until it isn’t. When a major challenge pops up or a situation gets stressful, the best employees stop expressing their individuality and fit seamlessly into the team.
Remarkable employees know when to play and when to be serious; when to be irreverent and when to conform; and when to challenge and when to back off. It’s a tough balance to strike, but a rare few can walk that fine line with ease.
4. They publicly praise… Praise from a boss feels good. Praise from a peer feels awesome, especially when you look up to that person.
Remarkable employees recognize the contributions of others, especially in group settings where the impact of their words is even greater.
5. And they privately complain. We all want employees to bring issues forward, but some problems are better handled in private. Great employees often get more latitude to bring up controversial subjects in a group setting because their performance allows greater freedom.
Remarkable employees come to you before or after a meeting to discuss a sensitive issue, knowing that bringing it up in a group setting could set off a firestorm.
6. They speak when others won’t. Some employees are hesitant to speak up in meetings. Some are even hesitant to speak up privately.
An employee once asked me a question about potential layoffs. After the meeting I said to him, “Why did you ask about that? You already know what’s going on.” He said, “I do, but a lot of other people don’t, and they’re afraid to ask. I thought it would help if they heard the answer from you.”
Remarkable employees have an innate feel for the issues and concerns of those around them, and step up to ask questions or raise important issues when others hesitate.
7. They like to prove others wrong. Self-motivation often springs from a desire to show that doubters are wrong. The kid without a college degree or the woman who was told she didn’t have leadership potential often possess a burning desire to prove other people wrong.
Education, intelligence, talent, and skill are important, but drive is critical. Remarkable employees are driven by something deeper and more personal than just the desire to do a good job.
8. They’re always fiddling. Some people are rarely satisfied (I mean that in a good way) and are constantly tinkering with something: Reworking a timeline, adjusting a process, tweaking a workflow.
Great employees follow processes. Remarkable employees find ways to make those processes even better, not only because they are expected to… but because they just can’t help it.
We’ve all witnessed the phenomenon: people sitting at Starbucks with their laptops working. We’ve seen people in their cars, texting (while parked, of course) or talking on the phone.
The new office space of the 21st century is the on-the-go space. No longer are people holed up in stuffy offices, looking out over the city. People are in the midst of the hustle and bustle, making do with wherever they are to get their work done, on iPads, laptops and smartphones. And, college students are definitely no exception.
More often than not, people read newspapers online, the e-book is changing the way that booksellers do business and, to be honest, I’m always somewhat startled on the mornings that I find the new yellow pages book on my doorstep. Do people really still use them? Why are they still in print?
Why am I bringing these points up, you may be asking yourself? It’s because while many social media coaches, consultants and strategists try to extol the virtues and necessity of having a social media plan in place, in reality, what most businesses really need is a mobile social media strategy in order to take their business well in to the 21st century.
As a friend once said, we are in a renaissance period of social media. Soon, there will not be traditional advertising and digital advertising. It will just be advertising, in general, and the majority of it will be done online.
With mobile marketing, customers can have access to your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from virtually anywhere in the world.
If your social media strategy today is only geared toward traditional desktop Internet users, you’re likely missing out on lots of business. To leverage the new wireless world, start focusing your social media marketing strategy toward mobile marketing.
- Get your business on social media mobile platforms: By creating profiles on mobile platforms such as Google Places, Yelp, Foursquare and even the mobile Yellow Pages app, you will be able to take full advantage of how your customers will be trying to find you online.
- Create a mobile website: By creating a website that is mobile friendly – with a quick loading time, mobile friendly graphics and navigation, you will be ready to tap into the mobile market. Talk to your MBS Systems inSite Representative for more information.
- Create a mobile app: Different from a mobile website, a mobile app will let your users interact with your business services. MBS recently introduced ‘On the Go,’ a mobile app that connects your students with important information on buyback, rush, and much more! Watch a demo and learn the details.
- Integrate QR codes into your digital strategy: Read our article about how to create and implement QR codes as a starting point.
- Get into mobile advertising: Most people, as they walk down the street, are looking at their mobile phone and not up at nature. Use that to your advantage.
- Text Messaging: While open and click through rates for email are notoriously low, 95% of all text messages are read. So why are you still working on that email campaign? See how other college stores including University of Wyoming Bookstore and The Duck Store are implementing SMS marketing.
In short, as more and more people use smartphones to conduct business, find information and make buying decisions, it is essential for your store to tap into this technology in order to continue to reach potential customers, as well as retain current ones.
Mobile marketing means moving information from your business right into the hands of your customers when they want it and where they want it.
Come see MBS at CAMEX in booths 1014 and 1018 for more information on our mobile solutions!
After watching textbook sales decline over the past few years, Susan Kryszak, retail operations manager of MC Books & More’s Rockville, MD location, decided something had to change.
“The long held belief of standard margins on textbooks is vanishing,” she explained. “There’s a lot of competition out there and I realized that in order for our store to keep up, we would have to change the rules of our business.”
Based on that insight, Kryszak, along with the retail operations managers on the Germantown and Takoma Park/Silver Spring campuses, agreed to disregard the rules of traditional pricing, and instead, treat textbooks like merchandise by putting them on sale during a special one-day event called Text-O-Rama. For the past two semesters, each of the campus stores has 10% off textbooks, excluding eBooks, rentals and online sales, with great success.
“Overall, sales are up about 2%,” she described. “It’s really proven to students that we’re trying to help them save money, and has been extremely effective. They love it!”
According to Kryszak, the key to the Text-O-Rama is its exclusivity.
“If students have access to something for an extended amount of time, it loses its value,” she said. “Because we only offer the discount from 10 am to 4 pm on one day, it adds a sense of urgency to the sale.”
Taking it one step further, the store decided to piggy-back traditional merchandise specials with Text-O-Rama for the Spring semester, offering promotions such as 25% off backpacks and 20% off clothing.
“Clothing for January increased 176% over the year before and backpacks increased 12%,” she said. “Because students felt that they were saving money on textbooks, they were more willing to make other in-store purchases, as well.”
Similarly, the store sold candy and snacks at a 10% discount.
“When a product only costs a $1.00 to begin with, saving 10% is not typically that significant; you would have thought we’d given students the world by giving them that discount, though,” she added. “The whole event creates such a positive atmosphere and everyone is very appreciative of the fact that we’re helping them save money, no matter how small the amount!”
In addition to the store specials, a representative from Dell was at the event to answer students’ questions. Although there was no special pricing for the event, the stores saw a 560% increase in the sale of laptops over the same period last year simply because the representative’s presence brought awareness to the fact that students could use their financial aid toward their purchase.
Along with its benefits to the store, Text-O-Rama has also saved Montgomery College students a total of $31,000 on textbooks; a number that Kryszak believes has positively influenced the stores’ image.
“During rush, you tend to see a lot of students who are frustrated or angry about how much they’re spending,” she said. “It’s not like that at Text-O-Rama. People are in a good mood and don’t even seem to mind waiting in line; they’re just so thankful to be saving some money!”
Some would expect that after the extravaganza, the stores’ sales would decrease, but that simply isn’t the case. In fact, their sales remain steady throughout rush thanks to the good will developed during Text-O-Rama!
“Our sales don’t decrease even after the sale and I think that’s because of the rapport we established with students,” she explained. “They see that we’re genuinely trying to save them money and they appreciate that effort, so they’re more willing to shop with us later on, too.”
The event has helped the store connect with faculty and staff on the campuses as well.
“The Student Financial Aid Office helped us out by hanging our poster up in their office and including an announcement in the e-newsletter that is sent to all Montgomery College faculty and staff,” she said. “Once they found out that we were doing this to benefit the students, they got on board and helped us promote Text-O-Rama,” she said.
With sales up and students happy, MC Books & More plans to bring Text-O-Rama back again next semester. In fact, Kryszak encourages other stores at other universities to try a similar strategy.
“It’s time to start approaching things with a different mindset,” she said. “Maintaining standard margins is like trying to hold water; the tighter you hold, the more gets away from you. By pricing more dynamically, you can win back market share and a positive image; it might be a little more work, but it’s worth it!”
Faculty are an extremely important demographic to college stores, and gaining their support is nearly essential to maintaining your market share. One way to enhance that relationship is to show how much their efforts are appreciated.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville recently did just that by hosting their annual Faculty Appreciation Week. According to an article written in Tennessee Today, this year’s theme celebrates faculty who bring big ideas to life every day in the classroom, through their research and community service.
Each day, stories and videos about faculty were featured on the Tennessee Today website. All of the Faculty Appreciation Week stories and videos were collected and archived, too.
In celebration of Faculty Appreciation Week, students, alumni, faculty, staff, and others were invited to send a “shout out” to their favorite faculty member or read what others have written. See how the University organized this initiative here.
A variety of special events were also planned. Although these events were a collaborative effort of the entire University, they offer great ideas that you could tweak and offer in your own store. Check out a few of them below:
•”Like” stickers—Students had the opportunity to obtain “like” stickers to give to their instructors. The stickers were handed out a designated time and place and students could pick them up and distribute them as they saw fit.
• Coffee and doughnuts—Grab-and-go stations with free coffee and doughnuts for faculty were set up at various locations around campus.
• Showcasing faculty books, research—Books authored by UT faculty were on display throughout the week at a designated campus location.
•UT Bookstore Discount—The bookstore offered a 20 percent discount to faculty and staff with their campus ID.
Take a look at the complete list of events the University offered by reading the rest of the article. Need more ideas? Ask your MBS Representative about our Focus on Faculty materials!
Through this resource, we supply you with free digital and printed marketing materials so you can engage with your faculty through a variety of channels including hosting a faculty appreciation event, sending reminder emails for adoption deadlines, and much more!
Facebook will bring its Timeline profile pages to brands this month in the U.S., according to executives briefed on the company’s plans.
At its F8 conference in September, Facebook introduced a dramatic transformation of profile pages for its more than 800 million users with the Timeline format, which generates picture-heavy, scrapbook-like collages spanning users’ entire history on the social network. It has been rolled out slowly, and users still have the choice to opt in.
At the time of the announcement, the company said it would wait to roll out the new feature for brands. Facebook VP-Marketing and Business Partnerships David Fischer said Timeline for brands would be “consistent” with the Timeline look-and-feel, but not a carbon copy.
So what will Timeline for brands look like? For one, the tabs or apps marketers currently host on their Facebook pages to sell products or take polls may turn into boxes on the brand’s Timeline, much like how apps for Spotify or Washington Post Social Reader live on users’ Timelines.
The format change could put the onus on brands to develop their own apps using custom verbs other than “like,” in the same vein as Pinterest, which has a Facebook app that tracks when its users have “pinned” something. Promoting the use and development of “Open Graph” apps, which can have their data tapped for ad targeting, is an area of increased focus for Facebook.
Timeline has significant implications for Facebook fan-page management. One top consideration is that a brand’s Facebook presence no longer must date to when it joined the site but can be represented with content populating its Timeline from throughout its history. (Coca-Cola, for example, could hypothetically add an event for 1892, the year it was founded.)
Facebook is expected to go into detail about the new pages at its first-ever fMC event, a day-long conference in New York on Feb. 29 specifically for marketers.
Are you excited for Timeline on your store’s page or would you rather stick with the format you have now? Share your opinion by commenting below!
With online retailers constantly preaching lowest price, students often have the perception that their college bookstore is actually the worst place to buy books. Seeing is believing, though, so some college stores have taken on the challenge of proving their competitiveness to students.
“We know our customers are shopping around for their textbooks, some even stand right in our aisles and tell us about it,” explained Amy DeLashmutt, marketing manager at Iowa State University Book Store. “So, we decided to add price comparison as a student-friendly initiative. It seemed like a great opportunity for us to gain their trust and prove that our prices truly aren’t the most expensive.”
“We firmly believe in the competitiveness of our pricing,” said DeLashmutt. “We all work very hard each day to ensure that our prices are comparable with the current marketplace, so we were confident that we could go up against other vendors in a price comparison situation and that, the majority of the time, we would win.”
In fact, DeLashmutt and her team aren’t afraid of the times when they may not come out on top.
“Of course there will be times when our store doesn’t have the best price,” she admitted. “But, I only view that as an opportunity; it will let us know where we aren’t as competitive as we can be and allow us to explore our options.”
To let their customers know about the new feature, the store first partnered with campus organizations.
“We met with the Government of the Student Body to let them know that we were planning to add price comparison and to get their initial feedback,” she explained. “The members were all very honest with us and most agreed that the most important factor in buying textbooks was finding the best price, which only reinforced our decision to go forward with the program.”
From there, they rolled out the feature to the rest of the University.
“We spoke with new students at orientation, posted to Facebook and Twitter, and created a variety of in-store signage,” DeLashmutt added.
To grab students’ attention, the store wanted to create a slogan for the program, as well.
“We were looking for an easy way to convey the concept of price comparison through words. Our student intern, Jaymi, came up with the slogan ‘Click, Compare, Save’ and made it into a logo and it’s been a big hit,” she said. “I think it’s a great lesson for all college stores to never discount what your students can give you; they know what their peers want so they can be a huge asset!”
The store also relied heavily on word-of-mouth marketing.
“Sometimes when you hear the pitch about price comparison from the bookstore, it sounds too good to be true, so we wanted to make sure others were talking about it,” she said. “We made sure all of our student employees knew about it and were spreading the word to in-store customers and even their friends. We were able to make the program a selling point of the school too, by talking to the employees in the New Student Programs department and asking them to pass on the benefits to incoming students. Basically, we just enlisted anyone we could to talk about it!”
Since then, feedback on the program has been extremely positive.
“They love it!” she said. “We’ve had lots of students tell us that, before, they would come to our site just to get the ISBN of their books and then buy them online without even looking at us as an option. This program really proves that they don’t have to do that anymore. It gives us the opportunity to say ‘You don’t think we have the best price? Check it!’”
Price comparison isn’t only helping the students, either.
“Parents are getting savvier and they’re searching for the best price, too, so they appreciate our effort just as much as their students do,” she added.
The store has seen significant benefits, as well.
“It’s completely turned our reputation around; students now see that we’re not working against them, but for them,” she explained. “It’s been a positive experience. “
Beyond enhancing their image, price comparison has also had an impact on their sales.
“82% of customers who used the price comparison feature in the Fall chose to purchase from us and that went up to 84% in the Spring,” added DeLashmutt. “That really speaks for itself; it proves that we are competitive, and when confronted with that customers will choose us.”
With so many benefits, the staff at Iowa State University Book Store is proud to say that they are more than happy with their decision to utilize a price comparison feature. In fact, DeLashmutt can sum up the experience with one anecdote:
“I was speaking to a group of students about the new program and I addressed their inevitable doubt by saying, ‘You’re probably wondering why we’re doing this,’ which was met with a round of nods,” she described. “I simply responded, ‘We’re doing this for you’ and a student shouted out, ‘Thank you!’”
To DeLashmutt, that’s a moment she won’t soon forget.
“I’m rarely speechless, but that was a really cool moment,” she added. “The fact that the student felt the need to thank us in front of all of his peers really brought the significance of this program home for me. As a college store, we try to give our students the best value, so to have one of them take the time to recognize that effort was really great. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about!”
As a retailer, your main goal is always to provide exceptional customer service. Unfortunately, some customers don’t always make that easy. So, how do you deal with a less than friendly shopper? Here are some tips to get you started:
Keep Your Emotions in Control: First thing’s first, you have to take a step back and realize that you can’t control anyone else’s behavior. If you allow a customer to push your buttons, you’ve lost control of the situation. Try to put your emotions aside and stay calm. A positive attitude will only positively influence how they respond to you. When a customer approaches you in an intimidating manner, the best response is always, “What can I do to help?”
Let the Customer Vent: Listening involves much more than just your ears. Tune in to the customer and acknowledge that their points are being heard and understood. Make sure that you maintain eye contact, stand or sit up straight, uncross your arms, and speak in a sincere tone to demonstrate that you are attentive and listening with an open mind. During any breaks in the customers’ complaints, repeat or paraphrase some of what you’re heading to keep the story straight and reinforce your willingness to help.
Show You Care: Empathy isn’t about agreement, only acceptance of what the customer is saying and feeling. You want to convey that you understand how they’re feeling in a genuine manner. Use ‘I’ statements such as “I can understand how that would be frustrating” to express that you comprehend their feelings.
Build rapport: Sometimes, empathy alone isn’t enough. Add another phrase into the conversation, if necessary, to show that you’re on the customer’s side. For example, you could say, “I can understand how you feel, I don’t like when I’m kept waiting, either.”
Watch What You Say: Sorry is an overused word; how often have you heard – “Sorry about that, give me the details and I’ll sort this out for you.” Because everyone says it, the word can come across as insincere at times. You want your response to sound genuine so instead, try using the phrase ‘I apologize’ followed by a specific description of what occurred.
If possible, include the customer’s name in your statement, too. For instance, you would say, “I apologize that you haven’t received the information that you were promised, Mrs. Jones.” Regardless of how you phrase something, though, be sure your voice communicates concern. People respond more to how you say something than what you say.
Ask for Input: Before you offer solutions, ask the customer how they would like the problem to be resolved. It’s a great way to show that you’re willing to acknowledge their preferences. Try not to leave the resolution open-ended, though; whenever possible, give your customer options. For example, you could say, “Would you prefer to have us replace the item or go ahead and return it for in-store credit?”
Avoid Blame: The number one rule for any retailer is that the customer is always right, but that doesn’t mean that you should attribute blame to your own store.
Never directly point the finger at yourself by saying things such as, “I’m not surprised your invoice was wrong, it’s been happening a lot.” Or, “Yes, our backorders are way behind.”
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t accept responsibility, though. If you know a definite mistake has been made you can acknowledge and apologize for it by saying, “I apologize for the inconvenience, Mr. Jones. I understand how important this gift is to you, so I assure you we are going correct the issue. Let me help you by…”
Seek out help: If you can’t resolve an issue, find someone in the store who can help. But, always take the time to get all the available facts before deciding who could best assist with the complaint. The worst thing you can do in this situation is to shuffle a customer between multiple employees before reaching a resolution.
Mean What You Say: Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be clear and truthful when you provide a resolution and ensure that the customer understands your proposed resolution.
While these tips are a good starting point, keep in mind that every situation is different and may require you to react differently. How do you handle difficult customers? Help others in the industry out by sharing your suggestions below!
For years, Holy Cross Bookstore’s buyback was a breeze. Students came in, sold their books, and the store generated the quantities of titles that they needed for future semesters. So in 2009, when they suddenly noticed a decline in their buy, they knew something had changed.
The store’s staff soon realized that the cause of their problem was the same many others in the industry are currently facing: buyback predators. With an influx of competition coming onto the campus, students had more options and were comparing prices, causing some to sell their books elsewhere.
Rather than just surrender their market share to these off-campus buyers, however, the store decided to fight back!
“Since that time, we have tried numerous promotions to entice students to sell at our store,” explained David McKenna, director. “We’ve implemented giveaways and handed out coupons but neither just seemed to be that effective.”
Determined to find a solution, the staff of the store decided to try a new kind of promotion this December.
“This year, we gave a t-shift featuring a never-before used logo to the first 200 students that sold their books back to us,” McKenna described. “Students really seemed to respond and it’s been a huge success!”
Working with their MBS Representative, Kim Miner, the store came up with a unique concept to feature on the shirts, and then used their MBS marketing allowance to purchase them, incurring no cost!
“I really applaud MBS for all that they do to help with this type of promotion, because it’s something we hadn’t thought of and it really attracted students,” he said.
Once the one-of-a-kind shirts, featuring the slogan ‘Purple Reign,’ were created and ordered, the store set about spreading the word to their customer base.
“We send an email to our students every semester reminding them about buyback,” he explained. “But, this year, we replaced the typical ‘cash for books’ message with an image of the t-shirt. I rarely ever get a response to those emails, but right after sending this one I must have had 100 in my inbox from students asking how buyback worked and if their books were eligible so that they could get that shirt; it was amazing!”
The enthusiasm level only grew from there!
“The results were just incredible! For the first time in awhile, we had a line at buyback,” McKenna described. “We actually had to add an extra buyer because we were so busy! Students were rushing in to be one of the first 200; they just loved it!”
The key to the promotion was the sense of urgency it created, according to McKenna.
“Because they knew the item was limited, students were coming to us first before even visiting those other buyers to compare prices,” he said. “It worked out great!”
In fact, the shirt’s popularity brought a steady flow of traffic into the store even after the buy had ended.
“People kept coming in and asking if we had any more of those shirts for sale,” he added. “I’m no genius, but if students are actually asking you for something it must be popular, so I ordered more and brought it on as a regular SKU!”
Since then, the shirt had continued to sell well, only adding to the promotion’s benefits.
“Multiple students will stop in and purchase their shirt before a basketball game; it’s turned into this group thing,” he said. “I think to them the shirt represents a kind of ‘super fan’ status and we’ve never carried that kind of merchandise before.”
Because the shirt was so successful, the store plans to continue with a new design next year.
“It’s a great way for us to take a chance on a logo that we might not typically carry in the store,” he explained. “If it’s popular during buyback, we know we should bring it on as full-time merchandise. If not, there’s always next year!”
They may also expand on the idea by getting students involved.
“We’ve thought about possibly making it into a contest where students could submit their own designs and then vote to select their favorite,” he added.
All in all, the staff of Holy Cross Bookstore is excited that they have found a promotion that resonates with their customers. To others who are looking to bring students back to their buy, McKenna has one suggestion:
“Don’t give up! Keep experimenting and see what works for your students,” he said. “The key is to get the kids in as early as you possibly can before they even notice all those other buyers! Incentives do work; it may take awhile to figure out which ones are best, but it’s all worth it in the end!“
How does your store combat buyback competition? Share your ideas with others by commenting below!
The following excerpt is from the article, Why Appreciation Matters So Much, by Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything. View the full article.
In the workplace itself, researcher Marcial Losada has found that among high-performing teams, the expression of positive feedback outweighs that of negative feedback by a ratio of 5.6 to 1. By contrast, low-performing teams have a ratio of .36 to 1.
So what are the practical steps you can take, especially as a manager, to use appreciation in the service of building a higher-performing (and more sustainable) team?
1. As the Hippocratic oath prescribes to physicians, “Above all else, do no harm.” Or perhaps more accurately, do less harm, since it’s unrealistic to do none. The costs of devaluing others are so great that we need to spend far more time thinking than we do now about how to hold people’s value, even in situations where they’ve fallen short and our goal is get them to change their behavior for the better.
2. Practice appreciation by starting with yourself. If you have difficulty openly appreciating others, it’s likely you also find it difficult to appreciate yourself. Take a few moments at the end of the day to ask yourself this simple question: “What can I rightly feel proud of today?” If you are committed to constant self-improvement, you can also ask yourself, “What could I do better tomorrow?” Both questions hold your value.
3. Make it a priority to notice what others are doing right. The more you work at it, the better you’ll get at it, and the more natural it will become for you. For example, start by thinking about what positive qualities, behaviors and contributions you currently take for granted among the members of your team. Then ask yourself, what is it that each of them uniquely brings to the table?
4. Be appreciative. The more specific you can be about what you value — and the more you notice what’s most meaningful to that person — the more positive your impact on that person is likely to be. A handwritten note makes a bigger impression than an email or a passing comment, but better any one of them than nothing at all.
We’re all more vulnerable and needy than we like to imagine. Authentically appreciating others will make you feel better about yourself, and it will also increase the likelihood they’ll invest more in their work, and in you. The human instinct for reciprocity runs deep.
Fewer college students bought and used e-textbooks in the 2011 academic year than in the year prior, according to a new report.
While about 6% of the textbooks students bought for courses in the 2010 academic year were digital books, only 3% were digital in 2011, according to the Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education report by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), an industry research organization.
The study, conducted among 1,625 students in late 2011, asked a wide variety of questions about student attitudes toward textbooks and e-textbooks. The report was presented this week at a BISG higher education publishing event in New York. The report’s presenter, Steve Paxhia, president of Beacon Hill Strategic Solutions, a boutique publishing consulting firm, pointed out that the 2011 version of the survey had respondent demographics that were slightly weighted against e-book adoption compared to the previous year’s study, like more full-time students (vs. part-time students).
The academic publishing market has yet to find the same secure purchase in digital publishing as other segments have, like trade publishing.
Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing solutions at BISG, estimated in a later presentation that about 5% to 7% of the e-textbook market is digital, versus the 15% to 20% that many major trade publishers reported as digital in their 2011 earnings reports or the roughly 30% of the romance genre that is digital.
Part of the reason might be availability. According to research among its users by VitalSource Technologies, Inc., a digital textbook distributor owned by Ingram with two million users, e-textbooks are only “always” available for a course 23% of the time. The same survey revealed that if all things were equal (price and availability), students would choose to use e-textbooks 47% of the time.
Other interesting statistics to come from the conference:
– Students are roughly 20% more likely to seek the lowest price on a textbook when they pay for it versus when their parents pay for it
– Nearly a third of students buy their books from Amazon
– The No. 1 reason students buy print textbooks among those who prefer to do so is that they can re-sell them
– About a quarter of students who buy textbooks want to keep them for the future
– About three quarters of students say the No. 1 device they use for studying is a laptop or desktop computer
– About 3% of students say their tablet computer is their No. 1 studying device. About 5% use a tablet computer as their secondary study device. But 46% of students are “interested in an iPad as a study device”