Perception is everything. We all know that many students perceive the college store as being overpriced - even when that's not the case. At the start of the semester, student-run and even local newspapers typically reinforce this sentiment with articles about the importance of shopping anywhere besides the on campus bookstore
To combat this misinformation, many stores are being proactive in generating positive press as the term begins. Take a look at the article below, written by Drew Viguet for The Arkansas Traveler, to see how Ali Sadeghi of University of Arkansas Bookstore was successful in conveying the benefits of his rental program over the competition.
Textbook purchases from the University Bookstore have increased over the past few years, but so has the means to acquire textbooks, the UA Bookstore director said.
“We have seen a growth in the textbook market and textbook purchases as we are looking at the UofA bookstore,” Ali Sadeghi said. “That has come on the understanding that the enrollment has increased and the kind of material that professors have been using has changed.”
Students have the option to buy new and used books, and also rent textbooks, which is generally the cheapest means of acquiring books.
The bookstore has seen a 30 percent growth rate in students who rent textbooks.
“The variety of material available and the ways students can obtain the books has mushroomed,” Sadeghi said.
Sadeghi also said that while officials has seen an increase in students getting their books from the bookstore, they also have to analyze and understand all of the factors.
“When we normalize the data, we also see the phenomenon of online purchasing,” Sadeghi said.
Students are able to pick up textbooks that they reserve or pre-order at the second floor of the bookstore.
“We also have a site within our website that provides competitive shopping for our students,” Sadeghi said.
Certain majors, such as engineering, involve purchasing textbooks that may be more expensive than usual. Textbooks more than $200 is common for engineering majors, student said.
“One time I had to buy a statics and dynamics combo book that was a little over $200, and that one I had to get from the bookstore because it was a bookstore-only book,” senior Caleb Bryant said. “However, it came in use for two different classes and sold back for a good amount. Most engineering books are expensive anyway, so it comes with the major.”
While online books may be cheaper, they are not always a better price, and take time to be delivered.
“At times, it is not that much cheaper,” Bryant said. “The bookstore offers convenience, and you are able to get it that day usually. The Internet offers it cheaper, and if the professor allows earlier versions, it is much cheaper, but then you have to wait for it to come in.”
Cost and convenience are the biggest values to not only students, but also to University Bookstore employees.
“We want them to do competitive shopping,” Sadeghi said. “We want them to have one source where they go to get everything they need,and evaluate what makes the best sales for them.”
How has your store helped inform students of the benefits you offer? Share your PR strategies with others in the comment section below.