Located 90 minutes north of Boston in New London, N.H., Colby-Sawyer College is a small school in a small town. With an enrollment of 1,200 students, the faculty and administration are used to being able to try out new ideas. Everything is open to reimagining, including how students obtain the texts they need for classes.
In 2014, Colby-Sawyer College received a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to support faculty and staff-initiated research projects focused on identifying new models and practices for higher education.
For a year, a team composed of four faculty and staff members explored alternative course material delivery options to see if they could find a solution that would lower costs and increase convenience for students. After extensive research, their project evolved into creating a student-designed campus store and was greenlighted for implementation. Ultimately, they led the charge in the college’s decision to partner with MBS Direct for course materials.
“We did research for a year and looked at providers. A survey showed that about 80 percent of our students were not buying their books in the bookstore; they were buying online,” says Professor of Business Administration Beth Crockford. “We realized we could reduce the cost of texts for our students.”
In 2016, Colby-Sawyer's new Online Bookstore from MBS Direct will launch, providing a resource that is better attuned to the needs and desires of its students. “We really liked the idea that students can go to one spot and find the best text for their needs,” says Crockford. “[MBS Direct] has all the options they want to purchase. We also really like Guaranteed Buyback; in the past, students were often surprised by how little they got back for their books.”
This shift in service comes on the heels of the college having a leased bookstore with their previous provider for more than two decades. By the end of that era, it was clear the old method was no longer working. “Faculty had almost no interaction with the store, except for adoptions,” says Professor Crockford. “We felt we needed to ramp up our game a bit. We figured we could make things better, and we liked the idea of MBS Direct since we had limited space and students were buying online anyway.”
With an online model for textbook fulfillment in place, Colby-Sawyer’s next step is implementing a reimagined campus store. The school has hired a manager and solicited student opinions on the types of apparel and food options they would like to see in the store.
Professor Crockford and the rest of the Colby-Sawyer community are excited for both the partnership with MBS Direct and for what lies ahead for the college as a whole.
“MBS Direct takes care of a lot of facets of the operation for us. Once we got the book area taken care of and got the costs down, we could spend more time creating a vibrant campus store,” says Professor Crockford. “MBS Direct allows us to focus on an interesting and energized store that will bring in revenue and allow us to focus on what students need.”