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Iowa State University Bookstore Repeats with College Materials Performance Award

Posted by Jason Smallheer on 4/10/17 5:30 AM
Topics: bookstores, ICBA, student savings

The Iowa State University Bookstore took home some hardware from ICBA in March, winning the Course Materials Performance Award for the second year in a row.

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Rita Phillips, director of the Iowa State Bookstore, said they had won the award before, but did not expect a back-to-back performance. She attributes her store’s performance to relationships.

“We have a strong relationship with the IT department, publishers, wholesalers and work with faculty,” she said. “It’s important for bookstores and publishers to meet with faculty to discuss affordability.”

Fostering the relationship between partners has helped the store with early adoptions and the dynamic pricing of course materials.

“The price comparison tool has been a big help,” Phillips said. “It forces us look at each title to dynamic price for the benefit of ISU students.” The bookstore uses the MBS faculty adoption tool.

The MBS Direct price comparison and faculty adoption tools are built into MBS Systems inSite, enabling a bookstore to construct a cutting-edge website where faculty can browse titles and submit adoptions, as well as allowing customers to compare prices and shop.

To help the bookstore, nearly every department at Iowa State University employs an academic coordinator. Their responsibility is to ensure faculty are on time with their adoptions because the coordinator is responsible for submiting the adoptions, so the processes in the bookstore result in proper inventory levels and the best pricing possible.

Along with relationships, Phillips said evolving her business has helped the Iowa State Bookstore remain competitive.

“If you are not adapting and changing all the time, you need to,” she said. “We are not competing with other bookstores, we learn from everyone in the industry. When someone shares something, we say, ‘Why didn’t we think of that.’”

Knowing more students are entering the university setting from a digital high school experience, Phillips has taken a proactive role in ensuring the digital options she offers provide a seamless transition for the student.

“More than half of the students coming out of high school in Iowa use a one-to-one model,” she said. “They are fine with digital and ready for adaptive learning.”

All-inclusive digital model is another choice for students at Iowa State University for a few courses. Although it is slow to grow, the bookstore believes this trend is the future.

“Tennessee does a lot with inclusive access,” Phillips said. “We just co-hosted a webinar with them.”

The Iowa State Bookstore continues to stay relevant through their flexibility, innovation, altering their business model as the industry changes and focusing on the needs of the student.

“We work with multiple vendors, publishers and wholesalers,” Phillips said. “We are offering the best value to the students.”

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About Jason Smallheer

Jason Smallheer worked for MBS from 2016 to 2017. His diverse career includes freelance work, broadcast radio and ski resort marketing. He has a passion for sharing ideas, helping businesses grow and professional development. When not expressing himself through writing, he enjoys time with his family and being outside doing anything that can result in scuffed knees and dirty clothes.

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