Colleges Give Up On Bookstores, Just Send Students To Amazon

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

Amazon pickup points on college campuses, which have been sprouting up at schools across the country, have two purposes: they exist to alleviate the strain that college students with Prime memberships put on campus mail services, and to help kill college bookstores. Bookstores are responding: not with price-matching or anything wacky like that, but by dropping books from their merchandise assortment.

Barnes & Noble’s college bookstore division is actually profitable, and split off from the original company a few years ago. Yet it also did something interesting: the word “book” has been taken out of its name, since the stores don’t really sell books anymore.

The New York Times visited the State University of New York’s Stony Brook University on Long Island this back-to-school season, and found a Barnes & Noble-run bookstore with a selection of pleasure reading and adult coloring books. Their reporter also found some confused freshmen trying to go textbook shopping.

The school bookstore is still the best place to get branded t-shirts and serves as an on-campus convenience store, but Stony Brook and other schools have partnered with Amazon to be their official textbook provider.

This is beneficial to students, many of whom already knew that they can get the best prices from Amazon for their texts. Schools also cash in, getting back about 2% of student textbook spending back in cash in return for making Amazon their official bookstore.

Purdue University was the first campus to set up an Amazon pickup point, and an official there told the Chronicle of Higher Education that the college has received about $1 million back from Amazon on student purchases.

As Amazon Arrives, the Campus Bookstore Is a Books Store No More [New York Times]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.