Bookstore strives to keep up with changing times

Students wait in line to purchase text books right by the store’s new quarterly iPad rentals. Photo by Sarah Sage

From providing an online textbook price comparison service to laptop rentals, the SPSCC Bookstore is making technological advances to catch up to the state-of-the-art in textbook shopping.

For Bryce Winkelman, Director of Auxiliary Services, it’s a constant struggle to stay caught up, but he’s confident that the Bookstore’s got a few tech tricks up its sleeve to win over today’s deal-savvy student populace.

To help students find the best deal on textbooks, the store offers an online price comparison service, available at http://spscc.verbacompare.com/session/new. Simply select your department and courses, and you get a list of SPSCC’s prices, and prices from other online markets like Amazon, AbeBooks, half.com and others. The site will populate multiple shopping carts for you without having to navigate away yourself.

According to Winkelman, the store’s busiest time of year is the first week of Fall Quarter, finding that many students buy their textbooks on the first day of class, often minutes before class begins! To prepare for this, the store added two iPhone cash registers. They plan on adding three more iPhone registers by spring quarter, and the old-fashioned cash registers will eventually get a touch screen upgrade.

According to Winkelman, the textbook rental program is quite popular and is a good option for cash-strapped students. The bookstore is adding more titles to rent. However, he feels the best value for students today is still in buying a used book and selling it back at the end of the quarter, so long as the faculty is going to use it again. “You’re still getting the most value out of that, rather than renting,” he said.

For technologically deprived students, the store also offers $55 per quarter iPad rentals and PC notebooks at $35 per quarter. This service, said Winkelman, is made possible by a federal grant to help address student affordability, and to help students prepare for the iPad-centric workplace of tomorrow.

According to student Cody Browne he won’t be renting out iPad’s from the bookstore since the Library has 15 iPads available for students and 15 for faculty starting Oct. 8 to rent for free. Library iPads can only be checked out for three days at a time versus a quarter however.

For the technologically oversaturated students who live and breathe by their iPhones, the store will be adding QR codes to their shelf tags. Students will no longer have to snap a photo of the ISBN number and do the comparative research themselves. They can scan the QR code and it will take them to the Price Comparison website automatically. The QR codes will be slowly phased in during the school year as they become available.

And, of course, there’s food. In response to customer surveys conducted by the Bookstore, the store offers healthier options, and even some Vegan options, so it’s not just the usual chips, candy, and soda.

The bookstore is working hard to become technologically cutting edge, but making its customers aware of everything is still a challenge. Student Rebecca Dean does most of her textbook shopping online and was not aware of the store’s Price Comparison site.

To receive mobile discounts, coupons and other promotions, text SPSCC to 313131 to join the SMS Rewards club. It’s free to join, and you get free shipping for online orders. For those of you who join, you can get a free pack of scantrons by showing the text message to the cashier.

To get instant buyback prices on your phone, text GETCASH and the ISBN number of your book to 67463, and you’ll receive a text with the value of the book.