In a move that was over a year in the making, Sinclair Community College changed its textbook services to a completely online store, eCampus. The store offers lower prices for students and options for rentals and buybacks, a first for the college.
College officials made the decision in June 2019 after screening several online textbook providers before picking eCampus, a warehouse headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky. Part of the process involved visiting Miami University and seeing how they implemented the store on their campus.
“Our number one goal: saving students money,” Jennifer Kostic, associate provost said. “eCampus had more competitive pricing than other retailers and was the only service that offered free shipping.”
Kostic states that students are expected to save 20% using eCampus compared to the physical bookstore. The service also offers students free two-day shipping to their homes, as well as free shipping to any Sinclair campus.
In addition, eCampus provides options for book buybacks and rentals. It includes a virtual marketplace where students can sell their books back to each other as well, with the only exception being online components of the text that require access codes.
“Before we switched to eCampus, students on financial aid really only had one choice, which was the bookstore,” Kostic said. “Which meant in most cases, they had to buy a brand new book. Now students who are on financial aid have all these affordable, flexible options.”
The transition has gone smoothly for the most part, according to Kostic, who also teaches classes in the communications department.
During the first week of the semester, eCampus representatives were at the bookstore to help students that were unprepared. Books for certain high-enrollment courses were delayed, though eCampus provided students that ordered before the first week of classes with a free e-book.
“I’m teaching a current class and I’ve (received) two comments—they love the shipping because they hated standing in line at the bookstore (and) they love the ability to rent,” Kostic said in an interview with Dayton Daily News. “I thought for sure they would all be interested in the digital downloads but a lot of them still want the hard copy book, but they don’t want to keep it.”
As with most transitions, the process has been polarizing to some, with students divided on the new system.
“I like it a lot better than the old one,” biology student J’La Herring said. “Going to find my books was a hassle, cause I didn’t always know what it looked like or where it could be found, and I always needed help from someone… so being able to do it online and see it for myself is very convenient.”
“Having all of the books be at the disposal of the students during the first few weeks of class was better because I don’t buy all my books at once, I think that’s just a large waste of money,” software development student Kevin Sandstrom said. “I like to go through the first couple days of class to know if I’m going to need the book or not; if not, I’m going to choose not to and to save money.”
The former bookstore, located on the first floor of Building 7, remains open as a one-stop shop for students’ needs. Now called the “Campus Store,” it carries school supplies such as notebooks, pens, pencils and folders, as well as tools and uniforms needed for specific classes. Examples of this include scrubs for medical students or paintbrushes and camera films for art students.