The Titan Shops University Store at California State University, Fullerton, saw the opportunity to provide another tool for student success with an inclusive-access model, sidestepping faculty buy-in and using relationships with IT and publishers to move the needle.
Including the cost of course materials with tuition has been a hot topic of conversation between bookstores and publishers, but the number of faculty buying into the idea has been low. Kim Ball, director of Titan Shops, said faculty is interested in the concept.
“We had half a dozen or so faculty members interested this term,” she said. “But nobody wants to be the first.”
Ball said Pearson and Norton had been approaching faculty about the idea for a while, and just recently had a member of the Cal State, Fullerton, faculty want to give the inclusive access model a try. The conventional product has all course materials bundled with tuition, and the student must opt-out of the program. The Cal State program is cognizant of anything looking like a fee, which they are not charging, so the program requires a student to “opt-in.”
"The first two weeks of the course the student has access to the digital materials for free,” Ball said. “If they want to keep it, they opt-in and pay for the digital product.”
The inclusive access program Titan Shops offers consists of all digital products, reducing floor space.
“We take the book list from the previous and current terms and ask the publisher if they have digital formats available,” Ball said. “If they do we make them available.”
The current term has about 500 students taking advantage of the opt-in inclusive access model and few tech problems to report due to the preparation and strong relationship Titan Shops has with Campus IT.
“For them, it’s all about student success and the student having what they need from day one,” Ball said. “They are a great partner to have on campus.”
Since most students don’t know what inclusive access is and how it works Campus IT is working on a video to offer explanations and offer clarity about the program.
“If the student doesn’t know what something is, they just go with what’s comfortable,” Ball said.
The inclusive model is priced comparatively to the store’s rental program with some additional benefits. When a student currently rents textbooks, they have access to the digital material through the end of the term. With the new inclusive opt-in program, students have access for a year, adding more value from day one.
Since the program began, Ball said publishers have dropped some prices and is hoping for other publishers to follow suit and become part of the program.
“We have other publishers who are interested,” Ball said. “The ‘opt-in’ model is another way for publishers to work with stores.”
The Titan Shop is starting to see an increase in digital sales due to the program and forecasts more growth as more faculty buy into the program, more publishers support the opt-in initiative and more bookstores adopt the process.
“We’ve had schools ask us about it,” Ball said. “We’re happy to share what we’ve learned.”
Ball said one of the keys to their success was having only 500 students in the program’s roll out and the team effort from the relationship with Campus IT. The smaller number of students enabled them to ensure the program was working on their end. With few kinks, Ball said it’s time for her and other stores to have more conversations with publishers.
“Don’t be afraid to talk to your publishers,” she said. “Now is the time to re-engage with them.”
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