With over 13 years in the course materials industry, MBS sales consultant Kim Miner has amassed an abundance of wisdom. We sat down with her to discuss the rapidly-changing industry — inclusive access, OER, hybrid store solutions and the future of digital. We also talked about why college store managers must ensure their voice is heard on campus.
What are the biggest concerns you see in education?
I think revenue streams and student retention are probably the two biggest challenges campuses are facing right now. They’re seeing other colleges in their states become very aggressive with their marketing and tuition offerings. They’re also seeing that a lot of states are looking at OER programs.
What kinds of course materials solutions help ease those burdens?
The big buzzwords right now are inclusive access and OER. Each of those terms means different things depending on the school you visit.
Is there something different inclusive access programs have in common?
Inclusive access means ensuring the student is prepared for the first day with the right materials so that they are successful in their course. That makes the faculty member happy, because they don’t have to chase down the bookstore or the student to ensure they buy the required materials.
What about OER?
The idea of OER is exceptional. But its success on specific campuses depends on whether all parties in the community will participate. How much is the campus willing to spend to ensure that an OER program is piloted correctly — to ensure that the data is maintained and the information is vetted?
Do you think there’s a lot of resistance from faculty with OER?
Definitely. The research shows that about 60% of faculty say they are intrigued by OER, but only something like 5% or 6% actually apply it in the classroom. Services like LoudCloud can help support campuses with their OER initiatives.
What are some ways college bookstores can continue to remain viable in the changing market?
Ensure the bookstore is educating the people upstairs. Make sure you have a voice at the table, that higher-ups know what’s going on at the bookstore and what’s happening. Students are buying fewer textbooks on campus. They’re looking at cost-saving alternatives. You want to keep that dialog going with the people working upstairs so that you’re not not cut out of any decisions.
There’s a big debate about print and digital. What do you think is the future of digital?
My daughters are fourteen months and three years old. I see how tech-savvy they already are at their age, and I know that in kindergarten they will be using smartboards, computers, iPads© and things like that in their school. I don’t think it’s matter of if digital will overtake print. I think it’s when.
We see that students still like a physical textbook. They want to be able to flip the page. That’s the same way I am. When the readers and the technology for the readers become more advanced, we’ll see digital blow up even more than it is now.
What’s happening with student textbook purchases?
Students are buying textbooks later and later in the semester, but they’re still buying them.
Do you see much interest in hybrid solutions?
Definitely. Hands down. No questions asked. When small to midlevel universities are looking to make a transition from textbooks on the shelves to textbooks online, their biggest fear is about losing foot traffic in the campus store. So, partnering with MBS Direct in a hybrid solution — one customized based on campus needs — allows schools to outsource textbooks while also keeping a line of communication going open with a campus store.
What do you enjoy about your work with MBS?
Every campus I visit is a new experience and a new challenge.