Earlier this month, Water Street Books began advertising the launch of its new price match program. While Water Street Books is the most convenient location for students at the College to purchase course materials, it has not always been the most cost-effective option. Now, under the price-match program, students who purchase course materials at Water Street Books but later find these materials for sale at a lower price elsewhere are eligible to collect the difference in the form of a gift card to the bookstore.
Follett Higher Education Group operates Water Street Books, as well as over 1200 other campus stores and 1600 virtual stores. Follett tested the price-match program in the fall of 2014 at 10 pilot stores. After the inauguration of the program proved successful, in Nov. 2015 Follett expanded the program to its other stores, including Water Street Books. Through the price-match program, Follett seeks to enable students to purchase materials at the lowest prices possible. By providing students with a gift card amounting to the difference, “Price Match allows students to apply price match funds to supplies or other needed materials available [at] the campus store,” the group said in a press release.
“We understand that students need to stay within budget, and we’re committed to helping them do that while also ensuring they are prepared for success,” Water Street Books Store Manager Richard Simpson said in the release. “Water Street Books already offers the largest selection of used books in the industry and a huge rental library; the price match program is the next step in our affordability and access commitment to students.”
The price-match program is one of two major initiatives Follett is taking to make purchasing course materials more affordable for students. Five years ago, Follett piloted a rental program which enables students to rent textbooks rather than paying the full price for books they do not intend to keep.
In the press release, Follett championed the text rental program as “[offering] discounts of up to 80 percent compared to purchasing new.” According to the same release, last fall, “Follett’s text rental program saved students $100 million.”
This year, Water Street Books has increased its rental library to make the text rental program more accessible to students at the College. Simpson believes the expansion of the text rental program has been successful. “I had one patron who saved over $340 by renting her three textbooks. She actually saved more than she spent,” Simpson said. According to the release, Follett’s rental program “already saved [students at the College] more than $40,000 last semester alone.”