When the Ventura County Community College District (VCCCD) decided to outsource the bookstores on its Oxnard College, Moorpark College and Ventura College campuses, it sought to offer students and faculty a new bookstore experience with updated merchandise, an array of affordable textbook options and first-class customer service.
“It’s been awesome,” said Jeremiah Smith, a bookseller at the Ventura College Bookstore, located 60 miles north of Los Angeles. A second-year student at the college, Smith touts the benefits of the enhanced training he has received since Barnes & Noble College assumed management in July — not only coaching him to do his job better, but also improving the level of his professional skills in general.
“When the bookstore came under Barnes & Noble College management, there was a lot of additional training, which really helped me grow as a bookseller,” he said. “I learned about the new offerings and received coaching in customer service. We also learned all about the new rental program and how to answer the many types of questions we can be asked by students.”
The bookstore’s new rental program is what Store Manager Susan Royer calls the highlight of the bookstore changeover. “On many titles, we can now offer six different options: new, used, digital, new rentals, used rentals, and digital rentals,” she explained. Student bookseller Smith agreed. “When students discover they can now rent their textbooks — that they have the option to save even more money by renting — they get very excited.”
Barnes & Noble College’s expertise and reputation in textbook-rentals was a significant factor in VCCCD’s decision to outsource the operation of its schools’ bookstores. With tuition costs on the rise nationwide, many students choose to attend community colleges because of their affordability. By offering a variety of cost-saving textbook options, the Ventura College Bookstore will help students save money.
According to Royer, students aren’t the only ones excited about what these rental options can offer. Faculty members are equally concerned about textbook costs and the impact it has on their students. “They want a valuable textbook, but they want to balance that value with affordability,” Royer explained. To make the process of choosing course materials even easier, the Ventura College Bookstore now offers FacultyEnlight, an online resource for researching, adopting and sharing insights about textbooks and course materials. Faculty can view what other professors are using for similar courses and see the many cost options that are available. “Not only is it a great online resource for faculty, but they can also place their textbook requests online, as well,” Royer stated.
The online experience has benefits for everyone using the bookstore. Students will have the convenience of shopping in-store and online on the bookstore’s website. “The presence of the bookstore website makes for easier accessibility and a better customer-service experience,” said David Keebler, Vice President of Business Services at Ventura College.
An upcoming redesign and renovation of the bookstore will also enhance the overall experience. “The layout will be dramatically different,” explained Royer. For example, customers now enter the store to cash registers that face the back wall. When the registers are moved to the side and angled to face forward, customers will be welcomed by a great, open display rather than cashiers’ backs. “It will be a much more inviting layout and experience,” she said.
As summer winds down and students prepare to return to campus, Ventura College students will find a new store that will offer improved customer service, new product selections and affordable textbook options. “It’s more than simply having a new retailer on campus, said Royer. “Our goal is to be a real support system for our students, faculty and the school community.”