An internal study showing 49% of its students were either buying textbooks at places other than the campus store or not buying them at all, prompted administrators at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to look for a solution. It was decided to negotiate savings for students in the new campus store contract.
Instead of trying to hash out a deal with publishers, SNHU is working with the potential vendors of its campus store. The university was willing to waive the commission it would normally receive, reportedby Inside Higher Education to be $500,000 for the 2011-12 school year, if a vendor would pass those savings on to students in the form of lower textbook prices.
The university is hoping reduced markups on textbooks will translate into more students buying their textbooks and doing so in the store, which will mean greater volume for the vendor. SNHU estimates the three bids it has received could save students up to $1.8 million on textbooks in the 2012-13 school year, based on the proposals and expected enrollment.
SNHU was able to consider such a move because of the success of its online learning program, which has brought in $12 to $14 million each of the last few years. But SNHU President Paul LeBlanc also saw dealing directly with publishers as a potential threat to the freedom of instructors to pick the textbooks they want.
“What goes out the window is choice,” he said.