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Fall Study reveals campus store #1 in course materials, and faculty influence is strong

The campus store continued to maintain the top spot as the primary source for course material acquisitions in both purchases and rentals during the Fall 2015 semester.

According to Student Watch™, the industry leading survey of student behaviors and attitudes toward course materials, 80% of students purchased at least one course material from the campus store, up from 68% a year ago, and 55% rented from the campus store. Of students who rented at least one unit from the bookstore, 78% rented there exclusively.

Amazon was the closest competitor, with frequency of rentals through Amazon showing marked growth at 33%, up from 28% a year ago. Frequency of students purchasing through Amazon fell from 48% to 40% for the fall semester.

When faculty speak, students listen

The influence of faculty over student acquisition is surprisingly powerful, including which course materials they acquire, which they don’t, and where they shop for them. Thirty-four percent of students said they didn’t acquire at least one course material because their instructor said it wasn’t needed in class.

The same holds true for digital content; when faculty required access codes for their course, almost 70% of students purchased it. When the instructor didn’t require, nearly 40% said it was their primary reason for not acquiring the download.

Faculty also wield mighty influence in where students get their materials. On average, only 7% of students shopped directly on publisher websites for their textbooks. However, of those who received a recommendation from faculty to buy from the publisher, 42% of them heeded their advice. Of students who received faculty recommendations, 73% were directed to the campus store, while 35% said they were pointed toward Amazon.

Students value course materials – when they’re used

Overall, 55% of students found their course materials to be very useful or extremely useful. When the professor incorporated them into coursework, that number jumped to 72%.

Average maximum a student is willing to pay per textbook segmented by their overall perceived value of course materials.

The maximum amount students are willing to spend on their course materials directly correlates to how useful they perceive the materials to be. On average, students who didn’t find their textbooks at all useful were willing to pay $143 at most, while students who found them to be extremely useful would spend a maximum of $194. Interestingly, the average price paid for a course material was $75.32, which is quite a bit lower than the average of what students are willing to pay.

The Student Watch Study reflects the attitudes and behaviors of 25,000-plus college and university students from 56 two- and four-year institutions. Student Watch is a product of OnCampus Research and funded by the NACS Foundation.

Want more charts, graphs, and detailed information? Purchase the Fall 2015 Student Watch report.