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Outsourcing of College Book Stores - A Retail Topic Considered

February 28, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 162

Colleges are under the gun to cut tuition costs, and rein in their budgets. This is happening nationwide, and out here in California the University system has already stated that it will raise the cost of tuition 8 to 9% per year for the next three years. One thing that tends to irk parents and students the most is the cost of the textbooks, and who can blame them really. Of course, it takes a lot to run a university bookstore, even if they hire college kids at minimum wage to work there. It's still a huge cost to the school, which also doesn't help the price of the books.

Okay so, one thing that colleges are doing is outsourcing their bookstores to other companies who then in turn work with the major publishers of textbooks, and also with the professors and their requirements and recommended reading lists. The outsourced bookstores, still use the same room on campus, and they hire folks at minimum wage also, some of them college students, many of them not. The other day, I was talking to someone at Starbucks who was a non-student employee of one of these contract companies.

Indeed being quite curious of this topic, I asked her about Apple's new eReader just made for textbooks. She said the bookstore didn't have some electronic textbooks, but mostly the textbooks were still in the traditional format. She also indicated that at least last semester, and this coming semester, it didn't seem to be affecting their business much. However, I believe that Steve Jobs vision for electronic textbooks will significantly change the industry in coming semesters.

Thus, one might ask will there even be a college bookstore on campuses at all - and if there re - what will they sell? Will they sell logoed shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, athletic gear, and dorm room appliances? And can they really compete, and stay in business just selling those sorts of items? Yes, those are big markup items, although it kind of defeats the name on the front of the store; "college bookstore" and it appeared to me since the gal I talked to was using public transportation, that perhaps she wasn't being paid very much money either, and probably didn't have the benefits that a student worker might have, or an actual employee of the college.

It seems that this might be an interim step to saving money at the college, and a smart move to reduce the budget, but it is not a significant overall savings for a college with big buildings, and huge facilities to run, with high-paying professor jobs and incredible legacy costs dragging down their yearly budgets. Indeed, I hope you will please consider all this, and some of the challenges ahead for higher education.

Lance Winslow has launched a new provocative series of eBooks on Future Retail Concepts. Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank;

Source: EzineArticles
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