Bookstore changes contract, goes digital

Upcoming Morrison Commons renovations set to begin in 2023 include updates to the Augustana Bookstore, which is transitioning to an online ordering system to keep up with surrounding universities.

For the summer term of 2022 and onward, all book orders will be placed entirely online through the new system. Augustana merchandise will transition to a hybrid of both online and in-person this year as well.

Suzie O’Meara Hernes, the senior director for community engagement and strategy advancement, said the new book store will be cost-effective for the students and easier to use through an online portal.

“It will be integrated into the system when you’re registering for your classes so it will show that these are the classes you’re registered for [and] these are the books and materials you need specifically for that class,” O’Meara Hernes said. “It will all be on a portal unique to you.”

The space where textbooks were displayed in the past will be used for students who live on-campus for them to pick up their orders until renovations of the building begin. For students who live off-campus, orders should arrive directly at their homes.

Augustana’s current bookstore provider, Barnes and Noble, lost the bid to Akademos, a Connecticut-based online book ordering system. 

“We are grateful for the many years of service that Barnes and Noble has provided us over the years,” O’Meara Hernes said. “This is a new opportunity to evolve how people are consuming products now.”

O’Meara Hernes said Akademos won the contract with Augustana because of the variety of books that they offered and the cost to the university and students. Barnes and Noble declined to comment on the change of suppliers or how current employees will be affected.

Similar to the dining service staff being employed by Sodexo, bookstore employees work for Barnes and Noble, not Augustana. Current bookstore employees can either find new positions within the Barnes and Noble company or apply for new positions in the bookstore under Akademos.

The ability to price compare is a feature of the new system that O’Meara Hernes hopes will make book ordering more efficient.

“Whether you’re price comparing against Amazon or other providers, you’ll be able to see that, yes, you are getting the right price,” O’Meara Hernes said. “It should be a time-saver as well as a cost-saver.”

O’Meara Hernes said the new ordering system will make using materials in class easier for faculty, although she said there will be a learning period.

President Stephanie Herseth Sandlin said the new bookstore system will ultimately benefit faculty and staff.

“Those that have seen the Akademos presentation, they see the ‘why’ and understand the rationale,” she said. “I think they may be excited about it but also they know that their colleagues have to learn more.”

Herseth Sandlin said the transition was not a surprise to most faculty, because other universities around the country are transitioning to similar systems. She said communication with faculty and informing the Augustana community that the change will be coming are the largest challenges ahead.

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