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October 1, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 48°F

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SGC discusses college’s transition to an online bookstore

Dave Prunty, executive director of Auxiliary Services, met with the Ithaca College Student Governance Council (SGC) to discuss the benefits of the online bookstore at its Nov. 29 meeting. 

Prunty and Esther Go, client success manager at Akademos, Inc., spoke about wanting to increase awareness of the online bookstore. Akademos is the platform behind the college’s online bookstore. The college switched to an online bookstore in August 2020 in response to changes in purchasing habits. Previously books were sold in person at the campus store.

Prunty said part of why the college picked Akademos was because of the company’s transparency and because of the number of textbook vouchers Akademos provides to the school. The vouchers are available at the student emergency relief fund. 

“One of the reasons we picked Akademos is because we liked who they were,” Prunty said. “The fact that they as a company are willing to show others [competitors’] books is really meaningful.”

Go said that 64% of the college’s students have logged in to the store this semester, and that only 33% of students with course materials available on the website have purchased them from the online bookstore.

Go shared data from the Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 order summaries. In Fall 2020, there were 2,074 total orders, 1,722 total purchasers and a total of 5,611 items sold.  In Fall 2021 there were 2,027 total orders, 1,700 total purchasers and a total of 5,152 items sold.

Go said the average price in 2020 was $44.56 per book, and the average price in 2021 was $39.86. The average Akademos book price is $57.08. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average price in 2020 of new hard copy textbooks was $84 and the average price of eBooks was $38. In 2020, the average student spending was $120.36 per student, and in 2021, the average student spending was $101.31. In Fall 2021, there was $92,153 in total savings. 

Go said that in Fall 2020, 43% of purchases were new books, 10% were used, 27% were from the marketplace where students can sell their old textbooks, 13% were eBooks, 6% were digital copies, 2% were rental and 0% were merchandise or other. In Fall 2021, 35% of purchases were new books, 10% were used, 28% were marketplace, 19% were eBooks, 7% were digital, 1% were rental and 1% were merchandise or other purchases.   

Go said the average delivery time in Fall 2021 was four days. She said that there are ongoing global supply chain issues, and that the delay in Fall 2021 was partially due to several publishers experiencing significant delays in printing new copies.

Go said Akademos has added a new warehouse in Long Island, New York, which will cut back on the time for shipping to Ithaca. She said Akademos is asking faculty to consider choosing digital books in an effort to avoid shipping delays. Go stressed that students should begin to order early to fight the increase in orders due to the holidays. 

SGC senate chair junior Austin Ruffino asked if students who order textbooks early only to find that they do not need them for class are able to return them. 

Go said that while the return policy varies depending on the item, generally, as long as the item is new and in the packaging, it can be returned within 30 days of ordering. Return policies for used and marketplace books are specific to the individual seller.

Go asked the SGC for suggestions on how student awareness of the online bookstore might be increased.

Freshman Noah Richardson, Class of 2025 senator, said he recently spoke with Jenna Linskens, director of Learning and Innovative Technologies, and he suggested sending out information about Akademos through announcements on the Canvas dashboard.

“I have learned from experience … that the less that students have to find out information, the more students find out about information,” Richardson said. “So having that announcement as soon as they open up their computer to Canvas would be a great way to reach out.”

Senior Letícia Guibunda, vice president of campus affairs, suggested advertising perks available to students as an incentive to use the bookstore over other sellers.

“In the past, as a student, when I did check out things on the bookstore, it was significantly more expensive than everywhere else,” Guibunda said. “So [it] got to a point that I wouldn’t even go and check it first anymore, I would just go to the other options.”

Junior Grace Madeya, Class of 2023 senator, suggested communicating more with professors in regards to what textbooks are necessary for classes. 

“Personally, I know for me and a lot of my other constituents, we don’t buy books until we actually meet with a professor the first day of class to confirm that we actually need the book,” Madeya said. “Hearing it from the professor … is one of the benefits and also reassures [students] that they have the right book for themselves.”

Go said the bookstore has integrated Amazon prices next to the marketplace prices on the website for individual books. If a book costs less on Amazon, the website includes a direct link to the Amazon web page. 

Ruffino also announced that Guibunda is taking on the role of student representative on the Presidential Search Committee in the wake of former SGC president junior Déontae Guy’s resignation. 

The SGC also went into executive session at the end of its meeting. 

“This executive session was productive and affirming,” Richardson said via email in a comment for The Ithacan. “Given the work we’ve all contributed this semester, it’s important to remind ourselves that we are still human.” 

Mel Andia can be reached at mandia@ithaca.edu