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Chemeketa Community College Sees Boost in ebook, Rental Sales

Posted by Dean Asher on 7/27/14 11:00 PM
Topics: digital content, textbook rental, college store stories

The Chemeketa Bookstore is seeing a significant increase in both its rental and ebook sales brought on by just a few shelf talkers, small signs advertising the rental and ebook programs and their advantages on the shelves holding traditional textbooks.

For Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Ore., a few slips of paper saved a lot of pages.

Cary Ballew-Renfro, Textbook Assistant, (left) and Bonnie Perry, Textbook Coordinator, show off the shelf talkers they credit with increasing ebook and rental sales.
Cary Ballew-Renfro, Textbook Assistant, (left) and Bonnie Perry, Textbook Coordinator, show off the shelf talkers they credit with increasing ebook and rental sales.

“We’re trying to show the many ways we can help students to save money,” said Bookstore Director Meredith Schreiber. “The statistic is 60 percent of students try to go without books, but here in the fifth week of the session, they’re desperate and need the book. Students really gravitate to the cheaper copy of ebooks, and rentals.”

Chemeketa began offering rental and ebooks to its students in the Spring 2012 semester, and struggled for the following terms on how best to present it to students. Separate sections in the store and small, easily obscured or toppled boxes that held ebook information seemed ineffective, which lead the school to showcase rentals and ebooks on the shelves themselves with separate red tags for rental and the MBS card for ebooks. 

A Chemeketa shelf talker.The cards not only drew attention to the options, but gave information on why they were a good choice, including convenience, saving paper and accessibility from a variety of mobile devices.

After implementing shelf talkers, Chemeketa saw its ebook sales more than double.

Meredith added that the books often meant better savings, too.

“We understand prices of these books are difficult, especially at community college, so we're trying to show reliable options we can offer — not that you have to buy a new book because that’s the only thing we’re offering,” she said. “And we’re really getting a lot more support from our faculty. That mythology where they think the bookstore is just there to make money is slowly eroding and they see were doing things to make a difference, and it brings more collaboration with faculty.”

Having options alone made a big difference, as well. Chemeketa didn’t see a negative impact in sales of new and used textbooks, in part due to more aggressively pursuing used books. In fact, used materials' share of the overall store sales have increased 7 percent.

“Even in situations where rental isn’t the best price, the fact that you’re offering these options seems to make it more likely students will purchase a book at the bookstore,” Meredith said. "It’s almost a psychology thing you can’t measure, but when there’s more price options they develop more trust to the brand.”

About Dean Asher

Dean Asher is a former copywriter with MBS. Though he no longer writes for us, he is still proud of having helped this blog continue to evolve as an industry-leading resource of news and original content.

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