No books, no problem

by Genny Boots, News Writer

Beginning fall term 2015, Garfield Book Co. will no longer be selling textbooks. The Pacific Lutheran University bookstore is stopping its in-house textbook distribution.

However, the bookstore will still work as an intermediary for students with a new online partner, MBS Direct. Students will buy their textbooks through the Garfield-MBS service, but will no longer have in-store access to textbooks.

Currently the textbook program begins with course textbook selection, or adoption, which is completed by professors and PLU faculty. Once selected, Garfield Book Company coordinates between wholesalers and publishing companies to get the books in store, for as competitive a market price as possible.

The decision to eliminate textbook sales in Garfield has been in the works for about a year.

“The challenge is students are obviously looking for the lowest cost and there are lots of online alternatives that take us out of the mix completely. A lot of students will go directly to Amazon,” said Director of Marketing and Communication Donna Gibbs.

The online process for students will be very similar to what is already in place. For faculty adoptions it will also be nearly the same process. However, with MBS Direct, students will see major changes in price. There will be new, used, rental and e-book options available and a buy-back program for all purchases.

“I think that one of the greatest advantages that we are going to find for our students is that for a lot of the books that MBS offers, they will offer a guarantee buy-back price on it, which something that we can’t guarantee in the store” said Garfield Store Manager Amanda Hawkins.

This buy back program allows students to see what their total investment will be. Students will also be able to access the MBS Marketplace, which visually compares prices at main competitors such as Amazon or Chegg.

“What is really motivating this move is both to save money for students and give you more options and also to create some cost efficiencies for the university,” Gibbs said, “which ultimately ends up saving costs for students.”

The switch away from in-house textbook sales is a response to the rapidly changing textbook market, which takes students out of physical stores and online where they can search to find the absolute lowest price. MBS Direct is an effort to bring students back to Garfield.

After textbooks are ordered, they can be shipped to the store or private residence. Current store policies for returns will still be in place, and students can still use their book advance to purchase textbooks.

This program will be piloted for summer session classes and begin for fall term.

The next steps are to decide how to fill the space left by the shelves of textbooks.

“We would be interested to know what students would like to see. What sort of services, products, experiences would students want,” Gibbs said.

Garfield will continue normal retail operations, selling Lute gear, gift options and trade books.
Any questions or comments can be directed to the Garfield Book Company at 253.535.7665 or at bkst@plu.edu.

Samantha Lund

Samantha Lund was the Editor in Chief at The Mast, a student-run newsroom within Pacific Lutheran University, in 2015-16. Lund created Mast Magazine in 2015 to give students a forum for long form news pieces. She could be found writing for Pacific Lutheran University's Marketing and Communication site plu.edu or interning at MOViN 92.9's morning talk show in Seattle. Other places to find her content include: Alaska Airlines blog and website, The News Tribune and The Bremerton Harald.

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