Southeast seeks bids to run bookstore, textbook rental

Monday, February 11, 2013

Southeast Missouri State University's in-house bookstore and textbook rental system could be up for bid.

In November, university officials began requesting proposals from outside vendors to continue bookstore and textbook rental services. Interested firms had a Jan. 9 deadline to submit bids.

Laura Stock, director of business operations at Southeast, said the university is accepting outside proposals because the textbook industry is technologically "in a state of flux."

"We want to consider new forms of textbooks," Stock said. "Other firms could better incorporate more nontraditional forms -- like e-books -- which we think would best serve students."

However, some students are concerned that delegating textbook services to an outside firm might not be in their best interests.

Bookstore employee and Southeast student Jack Dunn said some students are concerned that a new operating firm would lead to higher costs for textbooks and other required course materials.

"A new firm would not be better for students," Dunn said. "There's almost no chance they're going to rent us textbooks for the same price we're paying now."

For the 2012 and 2013 semesters, Southeast's textbook rental service charged $25.94 per course. With sticker prices for other rental services as high as $90, Dunn said maintaining low costs is a key attraction for the university.

"Nothing is better across the board for students than cheap textbooks," Dunn said.

Stock said the university is evaluating each bid as "a whole package" to determine the best fit for the university and the students. Until the bidding process is complete, Stock said prices and figures remain confidential, although the university will continue its efforts to minimize costs for students. For students who remain concerned, the university will hold open forums on campus for interested vendors to present their plans of operation for the bookstore and textbook rental.

"These forums will be open to the entire campus community," Stock said. "Part of the reason we're having these forums is so students can attend and ask questions about what these firms have to offer."

Stock said she expects these presentations to take place later this month or in early March, but no dates have been set.

Dunn said he and other employees of the bookstore and textbook rental have taken to social media to encourage students to attend the presentations. The group also is preparing its own presentation to deliver before student government, to voice their protest.

"I feel that if we hadn't spoken up, this could have just slipped by the students," Dunn said. "I don't think the university has properly informed the students of this issue."

Stock said the university is still determining which vendors -- if any -- are viable for the operation of textbook services. If a firm is selected, the final approval lies with the board of regents.

A contract could be awarded in mid-May with the selected firm taking over the bookstore and textbook rental by July.

The bookstore has 14 student employees and nine non-student employees.

srinehart@semissourian.com

388-3641

Pertinent address:

388 N. Henderson Ave., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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