Category Archives: Insights from the Campus Store

Open Source Materials and Textbooks

wikilogoIf you’re a student in the twenty-first century, you’ve probably wondered why professors even bother to require a textbook. After all, the amount of knowledge available online is astounding, abundant, and free. Why don’t academic professionals simply assign open source materials for the courses they teach?

Open Source originally started as a term used to refer to license-free software with freely shared and modified source code. Developers are able to share and collaborate on the software code. Now, the term is used widely to mean shareable data that is available for use, free from restrictive copyright or licensing. Sites such as Wikipedia or Khan Academy are great examples of open source in action.

So what’s wrong with using open source materials in the classroom?

On the internet, anyone is free to publish – and that’s both the beauty and the weakness of the internet. When you use a resource on the internet, it has not had the extensive vetting that a published academic work has had. Educational publishing has a complex system of peer review and cross checking for inconsistency and error.

Carefully chosen open source resources will undoubtedly be a part of the reference materials used in courses you take at Wilmington University. But an authoritative, scientific, and accurate textbook will still be the most reliable and solid choice for a course.

Online Students at the Campus Store

Campus Store Picsadjust

At Wilmington University, online students and face to face students who take the same course will generally have the same resource requirements. But if you’re a student in Florida, do you shop at the Wilmington University Campus store – online?

Carmen Casanova, Campus Store manager, says that over 25% of the Campus Store sales are online – but very frequently, online sales are to local students. “No matter where the students are located, we’re here to assist students, getting their books to them on time,” she said. “We ship around the corner, and overseas.”

If you’re an online student receiving financial aid, using that credit at the Campus Store after tuition obligations are met is probably the easiest way to use the remainder of your award.

Online textbook retailers such as Chegg, Amazon and Ecampus make comparison shopping very simple, but Casanova recommends caution. “Be careful that you are ordering the exact edition you need, with all software or online keys intact.”

Third party purchases are often not guaranteed or returnable, so if you find that the textbook you’ve ordered is missing a dvd, you may be out of luck. Using the Campus Store for your textbook purchases means you are guaranteed to have the correct materials for your class.

Ebooks: The Campus Store Weighs In

201girlwithtabletEarlier this year, Dr. Sallie Reissman, Senior Director of Online Learning and Educational Technology gave us her opinion of ebooks and the future of printed material. We asked Carmen Casanova, Manager of the Campus Store, and Rich Knapp, Assistant Manager to share their perspective and tell us about the Campus Store’s electronic offerings.

The Campus Store first offered ebooks to students in the fall of 2010. It was a small test run, with a limited number of titles that included a math text. Four years later, the Campus Store offers a wide selection of texts, mainly from large publishers.

“The publishers give us different options that we pass onto students,” said Knapp, who also serves as the Textbook coordinator for the Campus Store. “E-books are available for 360 and 180 day blocks of time,” he said, “and hopefully, we’ll be able to offer 90 day rentals in the near future.”

Knapp believes that it’s in the best interest of publishers to make the move to ebooks. With electronic resources, there are fewer third parties, and the publisher has much more control over content and revenue. While there are a few courses at Wilmington University that use electronic resources exclusively, Knapp believes there will always be print offerings available.

What excites Knapp about the electronic revolution in the textbook market is the opportunity for student feedback and adaptable content. Ebooks with interactive learning components such as quizzes or problems that can adapt to the students’ needs are becoming the norm. “They’re creating content that can help an A student or a C student succeed,” he said.

Carmen Casanova, Campus Store manager, points out that ebooks have a tremendous advantage for students with visual impairments. “Students can increase the font size or even have the text read to them.”

Ebook sales have recently leveled off nationally (Yahoo Finance article), and the Wilmington University Campus Store has also noticed a leveling off of demand for electronic media.

What Every Student Wants to Know: Why Are My Books So Expensive?

textbookblogWe sat down with Rich Knapp and Carmen Casanova from Wilmington University’s Campus Store to ask them about renting and purchasing textbooks and etextbooks. We asked them the question that most students ask – “Why are textbooks so expensive compared to non-educational books?”

Unlike non-educational books, textbooks go through a rigorous approval process. “Development and vetting of the product is the most expensive part of textbook development,” said Rich Knapp, Assistant Manager and Texbook Coordinator at the Campus Store.

Tenured professors are hired to write the book, while other professionals vet and correct the text. After that, a sales team markets and sells the book. “All of this happens before the publisher gets any revenue,” added Knapp. Mass market publishing requires much less up front investment.

Carmen Casanova, Manager of the Campus Store, wants Wilmington University students to know that the Campus Store is committed to giving students the best price possible for their books. “The Campus Store is owned and operated by Wilmington University, a non-profit institution,” she said.

Many higher education institutions have outsourced their bookstores to outside companies. “We’re here to provide a service to our students, not to make a profit,” said Casanova. “We work very hard to find the lower possible prices for our students.”

But there’s no denying that textbooks are a large expense in your education budget.

If textbooks are straining your budget, there are steps you can take to reduce the expense. Try renting your books, or consider ebooks, which can be up to 50% of the cost of printed books. And financial aid students may use their award to purchase books at the Campus Store after their tuition obligation is met.

Casanova and Knapp recognize that students also take advantage of Amazon’s competitive textbook pricing, but caution students that outside sources’ return policies may not be as generous as the Campus Store’s. Students also run the risk of ordering an outdated or wrong textbook.