Have you ever been bothered by the high prices of textbooks? Or not having a textbook on the first day of classes? Herkimer County Community College’s new BookMarket program is meant to fix that. But is it the best solution to the problem?
With the high prices of textbooks and so much of the world going digital, many students will go to online stores to purchase their textbooks. This can create problems for campus bookstores. That’s where Barnes and Noble Education (BNED) comes into play. BNED is a program that colleges can be a part of that provides campus bookstores with educational resources.
Richard Craft, the campus bookstore manager, believes that “it’s a way for colleges and campuses to basically still have a bookstore.”
BookMarket started last fall. It is a program that provides students with their required textbooks at the beginning of each semester. The fee for BookMarket is included in the student’s tuition bill and is based on a flat rate per credit hour taken.
This is important for students to be aware of, because if they do not opt-out, they will be charged the fee even if they don’t need textbooks for that semester. Students who do choose to opt out of the program are still able to purchase or rent books from the bookstore.
Craft said that “the whole idea is that every student has their books on the first day of classes.”
An advantage of BookMarket is that professors are now able to choose textbooks that they actually want. According to Craft, some professors are contemplating changing their courses slightly because they now have access to more expensive material. Craft said that “students should also learn better if the instructors are using tools that they know better and like better.”
Although BookMarket may be a positive change in some ways, Craft says “it’s not for everybody.” For example, students in a physical education major may only have one or two textbooks required for their entire semester or major. In this case, BookMarket would not be beneficial. Students in this situation would be better off renting or buying their textbooks than paying the BookMarket fee.
According to Craft, 21% of students chose to opt out of BookMarket last semester. This semester, it is estimated that 23% of students will opt out.
Like any new program, it will take time to tell if BookMarket will stay in effect. There have been mixed reviews.
Steven Mezik, professor of biology at Herkimer County Community College believes that BookMarket is hypocritical and “not to the benefit of the students.” He explained that students are here for an education, not to funnel money to Barnes and Noble.
It is up to the student to opt in or out of BookMarket, but students may not be getting the information they need about it. Mezik said that “Each Individual student needs to make their own decision, but they are really not given the information to get that.” Mezik explained that BookMarket might make sense for some students, but they need to be made more aware of the program so that they are able to make a decision that is best for them.
Some staff members are more optimistic about the BookMarket. “I’m excited about the program,” said Julie Lewis, the director of finance and business at the college. Lewis believes the program is “here to stay.” She explained that with everything going digital these days, bookstores constantly must be changing to keep up, and BookMarket is one of those changes.
Previously, Online Educational Resources (OER), were used to provide students with their material at no cost to them. Some professors still choose to use OER. Craft said that “whatever the professors want, they are able to use.”
Mezik prefers to use OER textbooks. He explained that a benefit of OER textbooks is that they can be presented in any format. A student could read their textbook online, as a PDF file, or print it out.
Over the past couple of months, some students have come to Craft unaware of BookMarket, or just not sure exactly what is. With this feedback in mind, the bookstore is informing students at least 35 days before the beginning of a semester to give them more time to consider their options.
If students need help opting in or out of BookMarket, or if they want to know more about the program, they can visit the campus bookstore for assistance. Craft stated that “we want students to be happy in the program.”
Although BookMarket may not be for everybody, it looks like it is here to stay.