Our goal is simple. It is our desire to have your books when you need them and to have enough of them to cover your enrollment. We receive many questions about the ordering cycle. Here are a few of the major concerns along with resolutions that may be helpful.
1. I send in my information on time and give you an estimated enrollment, yet you still run out of books. Why?
The number of texts ordered is based on you estimated enrollment, current enrollment information from the registrar, and the history of sales for the course in prior semesters. Our goal is to have books remaining for every course and we budget to have 20% of our inventory left over. Our average returns to publishers are over 25% of purchases.
However, in any given course it is possible for us to run out of books. Sometimes enrollment exceeds our estimates. Sometimes the publisher is out of stock or, in the case of bundles and custom texts, needs extra time to get reordered quantities to us. We have also found that students from other campuses may buy their books from us if their store has run out. And sometimes we simply make mistakes. Any one of these issues can cause us to run out of inventory and create a problem for you and your class.
We do use estimated enrollment numbers, as well as sales history, in determining how many copies to order. However, there are many factors that can impact order quantities. Declining sell-through---the is, the number of books we order that actually see---due to increased online competition must be considered, as well as the number of used copies we expect to source and the nature of materials. For example, custom published materials usually enjoy higher sell-through. The age of the edition is also a consideration, since the longer an edition has been around, the more alternate sources students can find, such as buying or borrowing from a friend.
While we budget to have 20% of our book inventory left over, we try not to exceed that number because returns to publishers are expensive. It costs 10% to 15% of the cost of the book to return it to the publisher; more if the publisher charges restocking fees. When you add up labor, freight and associated paperwork processing costs, the average cost of returning a text that hasn't sold is about $10 per book.
We try to determine how many students still need books and then order them immediately for next or second day air delivery. We realize that being without the required text is a serious issue for students and for you, and when that happens, we try to react immediately and get the books in as fast as possible.
If you know that sales or enrollment next term are likely to differ from past history, for example, because of the way you are going to use the text in class, please let us know as soon as possible--when you place your adoption, if you know at that time. Also, please respond as soon as possible when we contact you about a problem.
As soon as a publisher notifies us that a book is unavailable-out-of-stock, out-of-stock indefinitely, or out-of-print-we first search the national wholesale market for new and/or used books to see if we can secure enough copies. If not, we will immediately contact you to discuss the situation so that you can make an alternative selection, if possible.
Having your texts on the buyback list is critical for us to keep costs down for students. We need to know which texts you will use in the fall far enough in advance to do the research and make sure those titles are on the buyback list. In addition, problems do arise. Books go out-of-print, or out-of-stock and editions change. Some ISBNs are more difficult to verify now that there are so many bundles and ancillaries, and in general, we find that instructors are harder to reach over the summer.
Even if your students don't sell their books, it gives us a chance to locate used copies from other sources. We trade used copies among our stores and we search other used book wholesalers for copies.
It is important for us to have your confirmation, because courses change, and editions change frequently...about 25% of basic texts change editions each year. However, you don't have to wait until the adoption date to let us know, and if you are sure your are going to use the book every time the course is taught until it does change editions, we welcome knowing in advance. We will probably still seek your confirmation each term, because we don't want to risk a problem.
Yes, books that are readopted are bought back from students at 50% of the purchase price until we have as many copies as we think we need; non-adopted books are bought back at 10% to 30% of the new book price.
Our goal is to have every book on our shelves no later than two weeks prior to the start of classes, earlier if possible.
You can send them to the store on a piece of paper, call us, use the textbook adoption form we sent you, or you can submit them electronically through our edoption program. We will take information any way you can provide it. Often department administrative assistants collect adoptions and submit them at one time. We understand and appreciate the workload of department administrative assistants; however, please encourage them to submit adoptions to us as they are received, so we can begin working on them at once. The earlier we have the information, the less likely we are to have problems and the more likely we are to find used books on the national market.
Contact your bookstore or textbook manger should you need any information or clarification about how the adoption process works. Keeping the lines of communication open will benefit all of us.
Of course it depends on the discipline and other factors, but in general, about half of the used books on our shelves were bought back from students on your campus. The rest were obtained through a time-consuming process that involves locating and acquiring used books from used book vendors.
Briefly, textbooks require a larger investment to write, involve greater peer review, call for more comprehensive editing, and cost more to produce than general trade books. The textbook publisher's development costs are substantial, as are the costs of illustration programs, color and durable bindings. Textbooks are usually produced in smaller print runs, eliminating economics of scale, and their edition life is increasingly limited. Finally, marketing costs for textbooks are significant and are a definite factor in textbook pricing. Examination copies are expensive, as are the test banks, ancillaries and faculty support materials that have increasingly become the norm in this market. More information on this topic can be found in the last issue of Acumen, which is available on our website www.follett.com.
We are convinced that the best way for a student to save money is to buy a used book from our store and then sell that book back at the end of the term. The savings are substantial...up to 63% off the price of a text bought new and not sold back.
However, we are aware that some instructors tell students to buy form online bookstore. While this may save students some money, these sites may also create unintended problems.
Our research has shown that students usually end up buying from numerous individual suppliers who contract with an online store to sell their books. Consequently, service and order fulfillment time can be consistent, unpredictable and inaccurate. Refunds and exchanges can also be problematic.
The publisher's sales rep who may have visited you, helped you select the materials for the course, and processed your requests for complimentary copies does not get credit for the books your students buy online or from other sources.
Finally, when business is directed away from our store, it is harder for us to meet our obligations to your campus, specifically the obligation to secure all the course materials adopted by all faculty, including foreign editions, association publications, small press titles, custom course packs and bundles. We don't focus just on the large adoptions and ignore the more time-consuming, less lucrative titles, as online retailers often do. Our job is to acquire all required books, regardless of nature of origin, and we'll do everything possible to have all of the materials your campus needs, in the right quantities at the right time.
Remember too, that we contribute to your campus in many ways-from paying a percentage of sales to the institution, to employing people in the community (including students), to paying state taxes, supporting campus groups and clubs along with providing added value services.
The bottom line for us, if you will, is that we need your adoptions on time so we can obtain the right books for the first day of classes, address problems in a timely fashion, pay students the best price for their used books, and provide the used books students expect and demand.