Traditionally occupying separate roles in the learning supply chain, Barnes & Noble College and several of the publishers it partners with are working together in a number of new initiatives to help solve two of the biggest problems facing higher education today; affordability and accessibility. “It’s an initiative that comes from the realization that we’re two parts of an important solution for our customers,” says Barnes & Noble College’s Director of Digital Education, Nicole Guerrieri, “and it presents us with some really interesting opportunities to work together.”
No strangers to the corridors and offices of campus, publisher’s reps have long sought out the kind of community Barnes & Noble College enjoys with educators, having enrolled over 240,000 faculty members to FacultyEnlight, its online textbook adoption platform — many embedding the platform with a single sign-on directly from their LMS.
The synergy of publishers and bookstores working together was something Amber Clark appreciated in her former role as Textbook Manager at Liberty University, and after making the move to manage the Longwood University Bookstore, was something she knew could benefit her new campus. “I think the more we develop our relationships with our publishing reps, the more we’re going to help our schools keep more textbook revenue on campus,” she says.
Issues arising from textbooks being unavailable at the start of the semester or difficulties in accommodating last minute changes in course materials, Clark says, most often come from a lack of understanding about how publishers and bookstores work together. “It just makes sense to put publishing reps in the same room as our professors and start facilitating those conversations,” she explains.
Clark scheduled her first forum for the spring semester, when professors are most likely to consider making changes and choosing their course materials for the coming academic year. Close to 90 Longwood University faculty members attended the event, which was presented as an informal networking meet-and-greet opportunity and an invitation to enjoy some food, refreshments and learn more about the textbook adoption process. “It was really an opportunity to show the faculty that we have an open relationship with our publishers, and that we, as a team, can meet their needs for the upcoming semester by working together,” Clark says.
Events like the one at Longwood University are being replicated at several other bookstores across the country and mark a renewed collaboration with publishers. Barnes & Noble College is currently working on giving bookstores, in the future, the ability to offer faculty access to new adaptive learning materials from publishers that have not previously been available on FacultyEnlight. The inclusion of these kinds of new learning opportunities, including custom and interactive course materials, alongside traditional textbooks, will eventually offer faculty broader choices in lesson support materials in a convenient single-source platform. “These kinds of partnerships are ultimately aimed at building student success,” Guerrieri notes. “Not only will it offer the advantage of providing more lesson support options for our faculty, but it’s also another opportunity to help better prepare students for their classes,” she says.
At Longwood University, Clark is already seeing the beginning of smoother Rushes, as professors appreciate the importance of turning in their textbook adoptions early. She believes that finding better solutions for the campus is a big part of Longwood’s expectations of the bookstore, and initiatives like the event held with her publishing reps can help to meet the school’s goal for student success with improved access and affordability of learning materials. “All of that can come from just an open and honest conversation with everyone involved,” Clark says. “And if the end result is that faculty can benefit from a wider choice of learning materials, students can be assured of the best prices — and our campus partners can have all of that fulfilled by their own bookstore. I just honestly can’t think of a more effective use of our time.”