By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Learning Tips
Beginning in 2020, APUS students will have a new option for receiving their textbooks and other course materials. The University has partnered with Akademos, a full-service online bookstore based in Norwalk, Connecticut.
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The partnership is the result of a nearly year-long search for precisely the right online book seller. “Given our move to more OER [Open Educational Resources] and library sources, we liked their ability to post course materials lists and links into a student’s portal,” said Andrea Dunn, Associate VP for Course Materials at APUS.
As a result, more APUS students than ever will have a variety of textbook formats to choose from, including new, used, rentals and ebooks, which is the University’s primary cost-savings format. Students will also be able to sell textbooks by posts on the bookstore’s online marketplace.
In addition, a new master’s-level book grant will be available to active-duty servicemembers, their spouses and dependents, as well as National Guard members and Reservists using tuition assistance (TA). The grant will provide no-cost textbooks and ebooks for master’s-level courses. The APUS book grant formerly provided free books only to undergraduate and doctoral students.
The extended automatic book grant program will start on January 1, 2020. “Any courses that a student registers for after that time will receive it,” Dunn said. “Eligible students do not have to apply for the grant,” she added. Military personnel are already identified within the system and orders are currently placed on their behalf.
“With this future integration that we will be setting up within the campus, we will be able to automate that ordering process for this new student demographic that will be receiving the new book grant,” Dunn explained, referring to the addition of eligible graduate students into the book grant program.
Allowing APUS Students to Access Materials through an Online Portal or Bookstore Is Just Common Sense
As students increasingly turn to online learning for their post-secondary education, “it just makes sense that, when your textbooks are becoming more digital – whether it’s ebooks or digital courseware – allowing students to access those materials through an online portal or bookstore is just common sense,” said Eric Choi, marketing director at Akademos.
Carolyn Arnold, senior marketing manager at Akademos, explained that most students today are increasingly choosing the digital format. So the company tries to provide digital books whenever possible. We’re “very similar to Amazon. We have a website and a warehouse. You don’t have to go to a physical space to buy a book. We buy and sell any type of format. It’s just that you buy it online.”
Akademos works directly with publishers, including the so-called Big Three – Pearson, CenGage and McGraw-Hill. So the new APUS bookstore will offer students several formats and delivery options for course materials.
“By bringing the operations online and allowing us to handle all of the logistics, even customer support,” Choi says, “we’re able to reduce the cost of those textbooks by 35%, even more sometimes.”
When the bookstore is launched soon, students will see the different choices they have: whether they to want purchase or rent a book in hard copy or digital format. They make their selection and can pay with financial aid funds if they choose to. Depending on the chosen format, selected purchases are then delivered to the student’s home, deployed address or electronically via email to the student’s computer.