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0 Friday, April 18, 2008

New bookstore contract brings high hopes

by Emmalee Mattern

Students found in their e-mail inboxes April 1 the message that Oklahoma Christian administration made the decision to change bookstore companies from eFollett to the Texas Book Company (TBC) to better accommodate the university’s student’s growing needs.

The store’s new company managers opened the shop Monday, stocked full of fresh merchandise and offering new textbook policies that will better appeal to the students.

The change was made in part to the response of the student body needing required books at more affordable prices.

The policy that TBC provides also allows students to sell their books back to the store at a higher price, providing the student with a higher return rate on their book purchases.

“We want the students to get as much back as possible,” Assistant Vice President of TBC Darren Croom said.

This includes providing textbooks required by professors at prices that are more affordable for college students, and then enabling those students to sell their books again at a higher buy-back rate.

“We have a hope that they [TBC] will be able to provide better cost for our students because TBC has a higher rate of used text books than our former provider,” Vice President of Academic Affairs Allison Garrett said.

eFollett had been the book store provider for at least ten years when their contract ran out April 12. The company operates around 750 campus bookstores nationwide. The Texas Book Company, in operation for over 30 years, is a corporation out of Greenville, Texas and has signed contracts with only 25 other college or university bookstores in the southwest region.

With the newly contracted company being much smaller than the former, the relationship between book publishers, providers and Oklahoma Christian administration will be better.

Oklahoma Christian will be higher on their priority list as a customer, Garrett said. The needs will be better met and our students’ needs better taken care of.

With clothing lines like Nike, Under Armour and Tommy Hilfiger coming into the shop, along with new items of Oklahoma Christian paraphernalia, students at Oklahoma Christian can begin to look forward to more variety at lower prices.

“We are focused on giving [the students, faculty and staff,] a lot of attention whether that be in product, service or administration support,” Croom said. “We’re a smaller entity so we are able to give a lot more attention to our partners.”

This also means catering to the university’s mission of meeting the needs of the Edmond community as well. eFollett was not capable of meeting some of the personal goals of the Oklahoma Christian simply because of its sheer size, according to Croom.

“One of the key criteria with TBC is that their history is primarily rooted in the used book business,” Vice President Al Branch said.

This fact alone has many students excited about the new store, which will eventually be transferred to a different location within the Gaylord Center to better convenience the upper classmen who live on the eastern side of campus. Used books equals more money in students’ pocketbooks.

“As a college bookstore, they should realize that we, as students, cannot afford to buy expensive items,” freshman Tabitha Longbons said.

Besides the lowering of prices asked for clothing items, TBC will also be able to offer books at lower prices.

Most textbooks come with extra – and often unnecessary – material that professors don’t require the students to use, such as CD-ROMs and pamphlets.

Book prices are raised an average of 45 percent every time a new edition is printed, which is every three years, according to “Textbook Turmoil” by authors Julie Davis and Dadolato Vincent.

The company’s managers are working with administrators like Branch and Garrett “to get textbook information in the store as soon as possible…and get more money back to the students because we know that that money will be used in the following semesters.”.

The undertaking of providing desired books to students at reduced prices is achieved by remaining involved in a more extensive used book industry, as TBC does.

Branch reported that he and several other members of administration spent a four month long period searching for the company that was just the right fit for Oklahoma Christian.

The president’s advisory council narrowed the choices down to the companies they were leaning towards by visiting the other stores owned by those competing companies before deciding on the final partnership.

“We’re hoping to see a good variety and more affordable options as well,” Branch said. “We’re also working with architects for the best place to possibly relocate long term. But we are definitely redesigning and renovating the bookstore, with the help of TBC.”

Oklahoma Christian has maintained a campus gift/book store for a majority of its 58 year history.

This new store is going to remodel in order to create more space. TBC will be ready to work with faculty, staff and students to receive their own voice and opinions for business during the summer and fall semester.

The staff and management of TBC’s Oklahoma Christian bookstore have worked “feverishly,” Croom said, to get the store ready as soon as possible so as to “not disturb the student body.”

The shop reopened Monday and will be ready to begin book buy-backs next week.

New stock will continue to come in over the next few weeks, and students can expect to see many new and positive changes to the refurbished Oklahoma Christian bookstore. 

Photo by Jonathan Cannon

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