Following on from a recent post on the US College Market, we look at what other options are available when a textbook pricing is too high
The point where students seek cheaper options hovers are around $90 USD. Above this we see students go to discounters such as Amazon, turn to digital editions, use financial aid money to buy books or wait for the price to drop. In cases where they student delays purchasing then faster delivery will trump cost in the end.
Retail outlets who cater to these behaviors and attitudes win out. Consider offering cheaper options such as rentals and second hand for titles over $100. Manage inventory to assure availability for late purchases. Offer a digital option for every print textbook, even if the course is not integrated into the school's digital learning platform. Offer free and expedited delivery options, including "pickup at store" or other pickup location. Offer a variety of options for payment, including financial aid and Paypal
In certain disciplines, digital editions are either not available or print books are still preferred to digital. Mathematics, statistics, computer science, chemistry, and physics - any textbook that requires tables, long strings of formulae, or complex illustrations can be difficult to digitize in the Kindle format. Kindle's PDF equivalent, "Print Replica" is seen as inferior - many publishers just opt out.
The current advantage to print or non-Kindle ebook retailers will not last.
2017 saw big technical advances in digitizing mathematics textbooks for epub and Kindle. Publishers of humanities textbooks, which are mainly straight text or have minimal illustrations, are already moving at an accelerated pace to reduced print runs, print-on-demand only, or digital-only, in their efforts to reduce costs in the face of a dwindling print market.
The "buy back" option is a minor inducement to buy at college stores, as many online companies trade in second-hand textbooks. Still, there is a slight edge to the school bookstores convenience to the student and the ability to offer cash on the spot. This offering is better in the early part of spring or summer semesters, when the campus store provides the opportunity to sell and buy at the same time.
In this regard, "buy back" may be more valuable to the bookstore than to the student. The store does not have to order more inventory for a popular text. It gets opportunity for repeat business, and benefits from selling the same hard goods product more than once.
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