SUNY Poly launches new online bookstore operation to cut textbook costs

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MARCY — The SUNY Polytechnic Institute, a member of the State University of New York system with campuses in Albany and Utica, has announced the launch of a new online bookstore that is anticipated to reduce the cost and increase the accessibility of course content for its nearly 3,000 students.

Through a competitive bidding process, the university has selected Norwalk, Conn.-based course content platform Akademos to create a new online bookstore operation that will offer all required textbooks and course materials through an integrated eCommerce experience.

“As we continue to meet pandemic-induced challenges through online and hybrid approaches not only to
teaching, but also the student experience itself, and as SUNY Poly continues to provide even more online options for students, we saw this as an important opportunity to deliver course materials in a fully-online platform,” said John Reale, SUNY Poly executive director of
auxiliary services.

“The shift to fully-online bookstore operations is reflective of our commitment to making textbooks and course materials more affordable and competitively-priced in formats that are more accessible and inclusive for students,” the auxiliary services executive director added.

Rising textbook costs continue to be a major driver for the overall cost of a college education. Nationally, textbook prices have continued to outstrip the cost of most other consumer goods, adjusted for inflation.

A survey of more than 22,000 college students also found that the cost of required textbooks can have a negative impact on student success, with some respondents indicating high prices can lead to earning a poor grade, failing a course, or not registering for a course to begin with. 

To reduce their overall out-of-pocket costs from purchasing textbooks, SUNY Poly’s new school-branded online bookstore platform will offer students a competitive marketplace for course content purchasing. Using the new bookstore, students will be able to use existing “Wildcat Dollars” and their student accounts to conveniently purchase items at the store. In partnership with Akademos, SUNY Poly will expand access to a wide range of low-cost course materials, including digital and hard copy versions of required texts.

The store will launch this summer to support the fall 2021 semester. In parallel with the launch of the new online store, SUNY Poly will operate an on-campus store for merchandise and apparel.

With the integration of Akademos’ course content platform, faculty and administrators at SUNY Poly will benefit from a suite of analytics and tools designed to better track student engagement with course-level content and use data to support student success.

“As colleges continue to seek new and creative approaches to enhance value and improve the student experience, optimizing the use of physical space and digital and on-campus resources represents one of the most effective ways to not just improve the student experience, but ultimately control costs,” said Raj Kaji, CEO of Akademos. “The launch of this forward facing approach to course materials and textbooks is reflective of SUNY Poly’s commitment to driving value, affordability, and a high-quality educational experience for its students.”

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