It’s the beginning of a new semester. Some feel excited to embark on their educational quest while others get anxious at their desk knowing their bank accounts will suffer at the end of the week. The professors pass out their syllabus. They all managed to repeat the same line as if it was part of their contract to say, “You will be using the textbook in this class. It’s not that expensive and it’s actually really good.”  I fell for that my first semester in college. I spent about $300 on course materials only to find half of my books accumulating dust on my desk as I managed to pass all my classes with A’s. I’m not going to lie, there is always one class every semester where I enjoy the book enough to keep on my shelf, but most times it’s the more expensive ones that end up being unused. 

The common denominator amongst all college students is how they get their textbook and how much they spend. Most students already have to spend $600+ every semester just on classes, so when the time comes around at the beginning of a new semester, pulling out an extra $300, if that, is tough. What’s hard to grasp is also how some of those textbook cost just as much as the courses themselves. 

More often than not, students look for the cheapest way to gain access to their course material. Some decide to not get them and spend most of their hours in the library. Others shop around and look for the best bargain, buying used, renting new ones, or even borrowing from a friend. But at the end of the day, sometimes it’s just worth saving time and effort and buying the book right off the bat, hoping to resell it in the future.  

Now having to compete against Amazon and Chegg in the book market, Barnes & Noble came out with their way of capturing the new generation of college students: Barnes & Noble College, leasing stores to college campus to use for textbook disbursement. And guess who fell for the sales pitch? 

 Starting Jan. 29, 2018, The SAC Book RAC will be transitioning into Barnes & Noble management.   

 On one hand, Barnes & Noble is taking over the website, school merchandising marketing, rental supplies, and online learning programs. On the other hand, Mt SAC is still running the store and taking faculty and student consideration into what will best enhance their educational experience.  

 “By operating nearly 800 stores nationwide Barnes & Noble College will bring the benefit of more efficient systems and volumes to our campus, which will result in more affordability for our students, faculty and staff,” Interim Associate Vice President Stephen Garcia from Mt SAC Fiscal Services said.

 The company claims to make learning affordable to students and faculty by providing open educational resources content that would allow consumers to adapt the material in any means that would help them use it. Barnes & Noble owns the open educational resources software LoudCloud that provides a digital learning program with a competency learning platform, learning analytics, and open education resource course material. Basically, the in-depth version of Canvas or Moodlerooms, where professors can see how students are absorbing the materials and allowing them to learn at their own pace as well. Whether Mt SAC will transition into this online learning software has not yet been confirmed.    

“We’re excited to partner with Mt. San Antonio College,” said Barnes & Noble President Patrick Maloney. “We’re looking forward to offering the campus community an outstanding retail experience, a multitude of resources, innovative technologies, and an array of affordable course material offerings that will support Mt. SAC’s students and faculty.” 

In reality, it doesn’t really matter who is selling the books, but rather how the change from independent to corporate will affect Mt. SAC students.   

There is a concern that textbook prices might increase because the company would know students need certain textbooks that are only sold for Mt. SAC students. But they are willing to match prices. If the book is sold cheaper elsewhere they will match the price with Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon and local textbook rentals.  

There is also the consequence of working with franchises where advertising plays a big role. Barnes & Noble College have a section dedicated to “brand partnerships” to reach out to these campuses for their younger demographics.   

This is not the first capitalist transition made at Mt SAC. The college contracts the catering company Sodexo for the restaurants seen on campus.  

Forty four college campus in California currently have Barnes & Noble running their book stores, 27 of which are community colleges.