ICBA is closely following industry trends and news every day. We pull the best and most relevant articles to share with you here and on our social media channels.

Cengage and McGraw-Hill merge

Cengage and McGraw-Hill Merger: A Message for ICBA Members from Cengage

You may have heard the big news about the proposed Cengage/McGraw-Hill merger. With Cengage and McGraw being strong supporters of ICBA, we were able to speak with Kevin Carlsten, VP of Channel Strategy and Operations at Cengage, and asked him to provide ICBA Members with an update.

J.C. Penny gears up for apparel growth with Fanatics partnership – Dallas Business Journal

With Fanatics ownership of Fermata Group and the announcement of the Fanatics partnership with J.C. Penney brick & mortar stores, we have an interesting development in the dynamic world of collegiate licensed product. Certainly, Fanatics is not a new player to the channel, and pro-sports licensed goods are a natural fit for many JCP customers. However, while a long-time competitor of all licensed sports retailers, including college stores, Fanatics is now in a unique position with its own university license clients through Fermata – Georgia, Kentucky, Miami, Notre Dame, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin. We’d like your comments on how this new dynamic in collegiate sports licensing sets precedents in collegiate licensing, as well as what challenges and opportunities it presents for ICBA Members.

It's Hard to Be Hungry on Spring Break – The New York Times

If you were at the Textbook Affordability Conference, you heard Professor Sara Goldrick-Rab talk about the pervasiveness of food insecurity among today’s college students. The following article from the New York Times puts a human face on the issue and may inspire you to inquire about the problem on your campus. There may be creative ways for college stores to contribute to a campus solution. Share your thoughts with others.

What's Your Reputation Worth? Everything – McMillan Doolittle

Neil Stern, retail guru and former ICBA Conference presenter, has reviewed the recent Harris Poll on company “reputation quotient.” His observation is that reputation matters, and that increasingly, consumers are taking into account factors such as social responsibility and workplace environment when making buying decisions. This may be especially true on college campuses and could represent an opportunity for college stores.

Amazon's first Washington-area bookstore opens March 13 – The Washington Post

Amazon is scheduled to open its 15th brick-and-mortar store and first in the Washington, D.C. area. At 10,000 square feet, it is one of Amazon’s largest stores, but with fewer than 6,000 titles, it seems clear that these stores are as much a channel for Prime-customer acquisition as they are serious booksellers.


Report: Bundled Textbooks a Bad Deal for Students – Inside Higher Ed

With so much industry discussion focused on digital products, all-inclusive models, and OER, we forget that most students still are buying traditional textbooks, often bundled with access codes. A recent study by The Student Public Interest Research Groups (Student PIRGs) questioned the value of textbook bundles and strongly advocated Open Educational Resources. Although many of the arguments will sound familiar, it’s worth remembering that they are not passe or irrelevant.

NRF 2018 Live

NRF 2018 live - retail apocalypse? No. Data problems and store/online convergence? Yes. – diginomica

Not surprisingly, at the NRF Big Show and Expo, “omnichannel” retailing was front and center. Some of the takeaways from the event have real relevance to college stores, today as well as tomorrow.


The Truth (About OER) Is Out There – Inside Higher Ed

"Inside Higher Ed” has done a nice overview of the current state of OER. Although written primarily for faculty, the article points to several rich OER resources. You may just want to print this article and give it a quick read when you need a break from the business.

As e-book sales fall and audiobooks rise, print still dominates for local booksellers – Chicago Tribune

ICBA audio book partner, Libro.FM, received prominent mention in this article about the growing popularity of audio books. While still a small fraction of overall book sales, audio books have doubled their share in the past 3 years, and publishers are expanding their audio book lists. This is a low risk way for independent stores to stay relevant for more customers.

Across the country, higher ed enrollment shrinks for sixth straight year – Education Dive

The number of students enrolling in colleges and universities continued to decline in 2017. Like college stores themselves, the institutions we serve will have to be more resourceful and innovative in the years ahead. Still, higher education has never been more critical and opportunities remain for those who look ahead and embrace change. We look forward to an eventful and exciting 2018!

More Faculty Members are Using OER, Survey Finds – Inside Higher Ed

While faculty awareness of OER content remains relatively low, it is becoming increasingly mainstream. Concerns about textbook affordability will continue to drive OER initiatives, and it is important that college stores take a lead role in OER discussions on campus. Librarians have adopted the OER cause, and partnering with them can keep the bookstore at the center of the campus discussion.

OER and Affordable-Textbook Labeling Gains Ground – Inside Higher Ed

The gradual acceptance of OER in our market is being driven, of course, by the issue of textbook affordability. However, there are other issues that are on the periphery of this discussion, like “labeling.” As individual states wade into this territory, the complexity, and sometimes ambiguity, of the issues has the potential for further complicating the lives of college stores.

Cengage Announces Unlimited Digital Subscription – Inside Higher Ed

Publishers continue to roll out new business models to increase market share and to drive the business to digital products. A new “Netflix style” service would offer students unlimited access to Cengage digital products at different price points for one-semester, one-year, and two-year subscriptions. It is not clear from the announcement whether college stores would have a role in this business model.

Campus Stores Continue to Evolve – University Business

Amazon recently announced that the company will exit its agreement with UMass Amherst to operate a virtual bookstore for the campus in lieu of an on-campus store. We think that in addition to being a business decision, Amazon’s withdrawal from UMass also is a commentary on the increasingly complex course materials business.

CamHow Independent Bookstores Have Thrived in Spite of – Harvard Business School

The ABA reported that the number of independent bookstores increased by 35% from 2009-2015. This in-depth look at the “indie resurgence” may offer insight that applies to independent college stores as well.