Early adoptions can help stores lower costs and increase the buyback value on readopted textbooks for students. So, how can the college store encourage more on-time adoptions? Peninsula College Bookstore has the answer: work with the deans.
“Our biggest benefit for our last buyback was that we had most of our adoptions in. That let us buy fairly heavy from students. Typically, we source a decent amount of inventory, but because of COVID, I chose not to. I was able to use buyback more like I would for sourcing textbooks,” Peninsula College Director of Enterprise Services Camilla Rico said. “You can’t make educated choices without knowing what faculty will be using. We just can’t make those decisions. So, I worked with the deans to help me get adoptions in on time. We had a really large percentage in for fall before summer even started, which, for us, is huge.”
By presenting the necessity of on-time adoptions, the bookstore was able to form a partnership with the campus deans. The deans were then able to encourage faculty to make their selections sooner.
“Getting instructor support is my best advice. Work with the deans and get as much support as you can because they have sway over faculty. If you send the email, it’s just another nagging email from the bookstore. However, when the dean sends it, that is your boss telling you that you need to do something. It makes a huge difference,” Rico said. “And for students, it’s important that they have all that information upfront. It’s always important, but right now, it is even more so. Students already have a lot of questions and so many processes have changed. It’s hard to find all the information. Knowing what books they will need for their courses so they can get them ordered just helps streamline the process for them. Essentially, it’s just better for the students.”
Communicating with students about textbooks
Good student communication is important, especially right now. Students have a lot of companies and people vying for their attention which makes it hard to know what information is the most important to them. However, Peninsula College Bookstore has found a way to more directly speak to students.
“Students are dispersed all over the place. They are being overwhelmed with information. They are not reading the emails with all of this information buried at the bottom. However, they are in Canvas,” Rico said. “We found that for buying books, putting information into Canvas has been super helpful. I worked with our college’s Canvas administrator to put a message in Canvas that students can buy their books and a link to the bookstore. We’re going to try to do that for buyback when it gets closer to the end of the quarter. We will let them know how to make a buyback appointment.
“A lot of times bookstores don’t know all the options that might be available to them. We have never been able to send out mass emails before this happened. With COVID, we were able to. I think just partnering with different places on campus can have a huge impact on the store and student success,” Rico said. “You know, we had never asked to put information in Canvas before. We didn’t even know it was a possibility. I really found reaching out to other places on campus to be helpful.”
Adding more student convenience
Another change inspired by the pandemic is that student convenience is becoming an even greater priority for the bookstore. Peninsula College Bookstore looked at the new set of challenges they were facing and found ways to offer solutions that they hadn’t considered before.
“We did door-to-door deliveries. That’s another crazy thing. Our store staff and the kitchen staff made deliveries to people’s houses with books. When COVID hit, for us, it was right around rush and buyback. We had all these orders and all these students who needed the materials they ordered, and our campus was completely shut down. How else were they going to get their stuff? We decided that we would just deliver it to them, and we did it all for free,” Rico said. “This past quarter we charged a small fee for home delivery because now students can also choose to pick up on campus if they want. The students like the home delivery option, for sure.
“We are still doing all online orders. We, of course, comped all the processing fees, delivery fees and shipping fees for the spring quarter. Even our UPS shipping. All of it. I think a lot of people did that because of what was going on, but I think the local deliveries really made our community take notice,” Rico said. “There were a lot of people on social media from the community who would email us to say thank you because we delivered to their house. We did no-touch deliveries. Even if the person was outside, we would put the package down on their porch. I think with all the fear that was happening right at the beginning, people really appreciated that.”