Textbook options expanding
For the second year in a row, Wilfrid Laurier University’s bookstore is providing students with alternative options to the standard textbook purchase, which include both competitive online prices from alternative sellers, and rental textbooks.
“We are just trying to get as many options to students as possible,” said Michael Zybala, the associate director of retail services and systems, who explained both the “compare and save” and rental options for the bookstore.
Essentially, students are able to locate their textbooks on the shelf in the bookstore via a course code tag, which shows the bookstore’s prices.
However, they are also provided with a second red tag that displays competitive prices, such as those on Amazon.ca.
“We are basically making students aware of what our competitors’ prices are,” said Zybala.
“We realize that everyone is shopping around and we just want students to realize we are as price competitive as the other online retailers.”
“I don’t really think it helps,” said third-year business student Kyla MacEachern. “[It] just kind of says ‘look, this is our research’ and doesn’t really do anything else, [and] it makes them look cheap,” she added.
However, some students believe that the competitive price aspect is a positive thing. “You have choice,” said Elise, a third-year exchange student from France, who declined to give her last name.
Zybala explained that the bookstore has had some inquires about these features.
“I think students are pleasantly surprised that we are doing that comparison and giving them that information so that they can make an informed decision,” he said.
However, a rapid response from the student body is not necessarily occurring.
“It’s our second year of doing the rental, so it’s gaining a bit of interest,” said Zybala.
Still, students are showing some interest, and as MacEachern explained, if all her textbooks were available on the rental site, she would consider that option.
“Most of my textbooks are online, so they have an online component,” she explained.
But when asked if she would rent them if this weren’t an issue, she responded, “probably.”
Elise added that rental textbooks are a good idea.
However, she commented that if the rental textbooks were in the same price range as the books on the shelves, then it wouldn’t be as convenient.
Zybala also addressed the concern that students are becoming overwhelmed with the amount of options available to them for purchasing textbooks.
“I think it’s becoming more and more confusing as more options are available so we are trying to make ourselves available,” he explained.
However, some students are still looking for the best and most affordable options to purchase their textbooks, as MacEachern expressed.
“Students are going to find other options,” she said.
The bookstore is also aligning itself with the Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) book swap by offering booklists and other resources.
“We are working with as many student groups as possible,” Zybala explained.
While it’s unclear whether or not the bookstore profits from these conjunctions with student groups, it is clear that the students are their main focus.
“The key for us [is the students.] I mean, the students are why we are here so we are trying to give them as much options as possible,” he concluded