In recent years, the rising cost of textbooks has caught the attention of everyone from government agencies to the media. But, college stores have been taking action against the issue for years, ensuring they offer the lowest prices possible to their students. Columbus State Community College, located in Columbus, Ohio, has been at the forefront of the movement, doing all that they can to provide the best value; and they have faculty, students, administration and, of course, bookstore staff members, involved in the effort.
Two years ago, the school formed a Textbook Affordability Advisory Committee to help guide their initiatives. The group includes 16 members plus two advisors.
“It’s a good cross-section of the college,” said Jonathan Kreger, assistant professor of Political Science and co-chair of the advisory committee. “It allows us to gain different groups’ perspectives and devise solutions that have a real impact across the board. We’ve hosted a statewide Textbook Affordability Summit, talked with focus groups of faculty and students, and implemented several other initiatives. We’re making a big effort as an institution to ensure that our students receive fairly-priced course materials.”
As a part of the committee, the bookstore is heavily involved in both the ideation and implementation of the cost-saving strategies.
“I think what makes our store’s situation unique is our strong partnership with all of the departments on campus,” explained Stacey Mulinex, director of The Columbus State Bookstore. “We all work together to help lower the cost to our students.”
“As a store, we do our best to offer as many options as possible," said Phillip Sanders, textbook supervisor. "Rentals are available in our store and online, we’re aggressive in obtaining used books and we’re always open to carrying an e-book if it’s requested by a student or faculty member. We also offer price comparison on our website and implement dynamic pricing to ensure we’re competitive.”
The most important aspect of their efforts, however, has been educating their students on the services they offer. With the support of the committee, the store recently approached the idea from a different angle with a video that presents the information in a humorous way.
“It outlines the various ways students can save money at our store by showing them, rather than simply telling,” Mulinex said. “It’s been a great way to reach new students and teach them about what we can offer.”
The video was originally intended to only be shown in a first-year experience seminar class that each freshman enrolls in; however, the administration was so pleased with the final product that they featured it on the front page of the college’s website, as well!
“We got more out of it than we bargained for, which is great!” Mulinex added.
“We wrote it in such a way that it can be used for several years without having to be updated,” agreed David Wayne, media relations coordinator. “We’ll be able to use it at least two times each year to continue educating our newly-arriving students.”
The video now has more than 800 views and has been more than successful in educating incoming students and their families about Columbus State Community College’s dedication to affordability.
“It’s opened the door for a conversation with incoming students, and that’s invaluable.” Mulinex described.
“This is just one of the first in a series of projects aimed at educating students on our textbook affordability efforts,” Wayne added. “We’re looking forward to more opportunities to approach the topic in different ways.”