Colleges Struggle to Adjust to Changing Textbook Market

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

From Inside Higher Ed:

With broad adoption of rented textbooks and the steady but incremental shift from print to digital, the price of instructional materials is inching down — far too slowly for those worried about students’ costs, but enough to have significantly hurt the bottom line of most campus bookstores.

And the continuation of that trend is certain enough that it is only a matter of time before college stores, which now typically derive about 60 percent of their revenue from textbooks and other instructional material, will die if they do not change to “be financially self-supporting without making textbooks a profit center,” says Robert Walton, CEO of the National Association of College Stores.

Many colleges and universities have responded to those trends and the increasing complexity of the bookstore landscape by leasing the operations of their campus stores to outside providers like Barnes & Noble and Follett; the number of independent bookstores, which now stands at about 1,550, shrinks by about 7 to 10 percent a year.