You know a campus bookstore may be onto something when the college president and vice president are frequent customers. Oxnard College’s bookstore can now boast just that — and more.
“We all feel it’s vital for our college to have a vibrant bookstore, and we’re excited about our partnership with Barnes & Noble College to move that along,” said Dr. Michael Bush, Vice President, Business Services at Oxnard College, about the recent partnership. “A bookstore is so critical to student success.”
The most decisive contribution to that endeavor may be making certain that course materials get into students’ hands — efficiently, easily and cost effectively. Since coming under the management of Barnes & Noble College, the bookstore has instituted a new textbook-rental program that has received plenty of student praise.
“Depending on the title, books now can have up to six different price points,” explained Kate Dominguez, general manager of the Ventura County Community College District bookstores, which includes the Oxnard College Bookstore. “Previously, students had basically two textbook options to choose from: buy them new or buy them used,” she explained. “Now, they can also rent new or rent used. And, if there’s a digital option available, students can purchase or rent digital textbooks, as well. It gives students so much more flexibility with price and their learning style.” This is particularly important for budget-conscious students who sometimes share books, a practice Dr. Bush said, “can be challenging and limiting.”
As a bookseller, Debbie Guzman noted that discussing the various course material choices that are available has been very positive. “For some students, it can mean the difference between having to take a second job or not,” she stated.
Guzman, president of Oxnard’s Associated Student Government (ASG), has had the opportunity to hear directly from her fellow students about what they wish for in a campus bookstore, and she is helping to plan forums where they can both get information and provide feedback. On the flip side, she’s been able to present bookstore information and events with her ASG council to share with the Oxnard student body.
With the school’s unique breadth of programs and classes — including culinary arts, dental hygiene, firefighting and marine biology — the bookstore is prepared to fulfill some not-so-typical course material requirements. “We have knife kits, kitchen calculators, and culinary model kits, so students can create the exact size of a julienne or a cube,” said Dominguez. “We also sell fire-tech uniforms for physical training for Fire Academy and Fire Technology majors. We make a point to reach out to these programs to inform faculty and students that we have their interests and needs in mind.”
Keeping mutual interests front and center may be what’s made the partnership work so well from day one. “One thing I particularly like about our partnership is the respect Barnes & Noble College has for maintaining the uniqueness of our college campus. They took the time to learn about what makes Oxnard truly Oxnard,” praised Dr. Bush, who notes the college, which is located on California’s Central Coast, has experienced a rapid growth in enrollment in recent years. “They didn’t try to change our brand, but enhanced it. Barnes & Noble looked to become a part of our college — not simply be a store located on the campus.”
The bookstore is partnering with the college to do some renovations in the spring, including a marketplace that will offer coffee service and fresh food options. “At Oxnard, 40 percent of our students take evening classes,” Dr. Bush explained. “We’re looking for options that will work well for them — and the ability to pick up a quick snack can be very helpful.” The bookstore also has an important fan who thinks getting a cup of coffee at the campus bookstore might be just the ticket. “The president thought it would be a good idea for the campus,” said Dominguez, “and as a student, I have to agree!”