Amazon’s Purdue Student Store Opens Online, Cuts Textbook Burden

Purdue University and Amazon are offering students the chance to save up to 30% ($6 million cumulatively) annually on textbooks due to a unique collaboration.  In a press release, the plan is explained as being a new, co-branded experience so that students can buy lower-cost textbooks and other college accoutrements.

It will be called the Purdue Student Store on Amazon, purdue.amazon.com and has already launched.

“This relationship is another step in Purdue’s efforts to make a college education more affordable for our students,” said President Mitch Daniels. “With the pressure on college campuses to reduce costs, this new way of doing business has the potential to change the book-buying landscape for students and their families.”

Daniels is focused on finding ways to make college more affordable.  Purdue has put a three-year freeze on tuition and has brought room and board costs down by 5% for two years in a row.  He calls these and other initiatives Purdue Moves, and their purpose is to “broaden Purdue’s global impact and enhance educational opportunities for its students”.

“For years we’ve offered students low prices on everything from textbooks to electronics to dorm essentials on Amazon.com,” said Amazon Vice President of Media and Student Programs Paul Ryder. “We’re teaming up with Purdue to bring students staffed, on-campus pickup locations and benefits like Amazon’s Free One-Day Shipping on textbooks, making the college student store experience more affordable and convenient.”

Amazon is going to return a percentage of sales through the Purdue Student Store back to the university, and these monies will be used for student affordability and accessibility initiatives.

Daniels, at the same time, is preparing to teach his first class at Purdue University, and is putting together a syllabus of his own.  Dave Bangert, writing an opinion piece for the Lafayette Journal & Courier, says that Daniels will be teaching a course called “The Great War and its Continuing Aftermath” as a part of Purdue’s Honors College.  The president says that he is requiring plenty of reading, but would have to use this first year of teaching class to see if the hours spent reading are too overwhelming.  His course is on the history of World War I.

This course’s reading materials kept Daniels upset as he saw the rising price of textbooks which students used a few months and then got little of their costs back if they sold their texts at the end of the semester.  He was more intent on the Amazon partnership than ever.  Local bookstore owners took exception to the change, knowing that it would affect their sales numbers. Daniel’s stood his ground, explaining that since a cost of $890 a year for textbooks in 2002-2003, prices have soared to $1,370 in 2012-2013.    

Many have said higher education , as it exists now, will be gone in the not so distant future.  Talk is rampant concerning the advancement of online universities and other doomsday predictions, such as cutting tuitions will mean the ultimate downfall of US colleges and universities. What if these naysayers are right, asks Bangert?

Daniels points out that Purdue has an ample number of students, and is currently involved with the city in a campaign to turn State Street, which runs through the campus, into a calmer, safer, Purdue-friendly thoroughfare.  The author points out that the university’s president has  several calculated bets that he hopes he wins.  Doing the same things that have been done for so many years is not working for Daniels,  Bangert says that “textbooks won’t be the last thing on Daniel’s list”.