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OCC, Barnes & Noble to cut textbook costs for students with bundled pricing program

By Eric Reinhardt

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Casey Crabill, president of Onondaga Community College (OCC) (right) and Allison Guzman-Martinez, student trustee on the OCC board of trustees, on Wednesday discussed the school’s new partnership with Barnes & Noble College on a bundled-pricing program that reduces the cost of textbooks for students and offers a lower cost laptop computer. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN)

ONONDAGA, N.Y. — Onondaga Community College (OCC) on Wednesday announced a partnership with Barnes & Noble College on a new, three-year program to reduce the price of textbooks and technology for students with a bundled-pricing model.

New York City–based Barnes & Noble College — which is part of Basking Ridge, New Jersey–based Barnes & Noble Education (NYSE: BNED) — operates the OCC campus bookstore.

Beginning this fall, the “Box of Books” program will provide students with “flat-rate, predictable pricing” for textbooks and a lower cost Chromebook computer, OCC said in a Wednesday news release. The program is formally called “First Day Complete,” promising to offer “first-day-of-class access to affordable, high-quality course materials for all courses,” per the release.

“We’ve heard from students over the course of several years with the escalating cost of textbooks [and] online computer access codes … causing a real struggle,” Casey Crabill, president of Onondaga Community College, said during a Wednesday press conference on the college’s campus. “Students have been unable to have the funds necessary to buy the materials required to participate in schools

Last year, fewer than half of the students at OCC were able to afford the books and access codes necessary, creating a “playing field that isn’t level,” Crabill contended.

Students paid an average cost of nearly $82 for each textbook during 2018, for a total average cost of $615 per semester, the college said.

Under the “Box of Books” program, students will pay $21.50 per credit hour or $64.50 for each required textbook. The cost of textbooks for one semester will total $322.50. The program also allows students to purchase a Chromebook for $250, the school added.

Crabill described the talks with Barnes & Noble College as a negotiation with a company that understands that its business model “needs to evolve into current realities for students.”

“I think they’ve probably taken on some risk with us and I think they’ll be watching it as closely as we will,” said Crabill.

 “This inclusive access model will support affordability, accessibility and achievement for the Onondaga campus community, by providing all course materials conveniently delivered as a bundle for students on or before the first day of class,” Paul Maloney, VP of stores at Barnes & Noble College, said in the school’s release.

OCC said it is the first public college in the U.S. to join this Box of Books program.

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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