Geneseo released its first full textbook list this fall, allowing students to compare book prices and partially diverting business from Sundance Books to alternative online sources.
According to Sundance Books Textbook Outlet manager Jim Matson, the store did see a decrease in sales for the spring semester following the release of the book list, mainly in the trade of used books.
"More students traded with each other instead of selling back to Sundance," he explained. "We did receive fewer preorders this semester than in past semesters, [but] we have seen preorders steadily decreasing over time before the book list."
Geneseo's contract with Sundance as the sole textbook provider expires in May and the college is looking for other vendors to submit bids on a new three-year contract.
Mark Scott, executive director of Campus Auxiliary Services, said that a committee will be sending out requests for proposals in the next month to retailers like Barnes and Noble and E-campus to submit bids for the college's textbook contract.
"We are going to make a decision about our textbook operator that best represents the needs of the student community," he said. "We can't ignore what is happening in the marketplace, and we can't ignore the appeal of online retailers."
Junior Rachel Saunders saved money buying her books online this semester. "I was able to get a majority of them on Amazon," she said. "You can't always get used books at Sundance." She did note, however, the inconvenience of books that did not arrive in time for classes.
For the first time, students who preordered books through Sundance received a detailed list of how much each textbook cost before showing up to get their books. Matson said this is part of upgrading technology.
"Rather than accepting preorders for complete schedules, we will offer a shopping cart system where students will be able to pick and choose individual titles and know the prices before they make a purchase," he said. This is expected to increase convenience to students and cut down the time spent in line at the textbook outlet.
Both Scott and Matson commented on increasing costs in the textbook industry. "When we began selling textbooks 30 years ago a student could purchase all of their books for less than $200," Matson said. "Today, depending on curriculum, some students may spend upwards of $600 on a semester's worth of books."
"There is legislative pressure on schools to make sure we are providing textbook services that are affordable to students," Scott said.
According to Scott, a decision will be made on the contract by early April, allowing whichever vendor is signed to prepare to sell textbooks this fall. He said that a new vendor would most likely use the space in the College Union that is currently the Campus Store, and would have to provide books, art supplies and other retail.