‘I’ve never seen anything this cheap’ – New textbook program to offer students alternate pricing plan

Alyssa DeWig, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: Jessica Leonard is the USI Campus Store manager. First Day Complete was made a program through an agreement between the USI Campus Store and the USI Business Office. 

USI Campus Store established a new, optional program called First Day Complete, also known as Archie’s Book Bundle, which will allow students to pay $24 per credit hour to cover the price of all their books needed for the semester. The program will be effective for the Fall 2022 semester. 

The USI Campus Store, run by Barnes and Noble College, collaborated with Barnes and Noble College and the USI Business Office with the support of the Provost Office to make this program available at USI. The idea for this program was presented to the Board of Trustees and received approval March 3.

“They thought it was kind of a no-brainer,” said Jessica Leonard, USI Campus Store manager. 

Comparing the program’s credit hour fee to previous semesters for students individually buying books, “USI averages student textbook costs to be about $600”, Leonard said. With the new program, a student taking 15 credit hours will pay on average $360 dollars for all their textbooks.

Leonard was one of the members pushing for this program to be brought to campus. She looked at the total costs many of her student employees at the campus bookstore spent on books for the semester and calculated that “9 out of 10 had really big savings, and one of them would have saved around $400 this semester.” 

Leonard said, “I’ve been doing textbooks for 15 years, and I’ve never seen anything this cheap.”

In hearing about the upcoming program, students reflected on the significant prices of their books each semester. “I shouldn’t have to take out a loan to pay for my books,” said Pluto Higgins, freshman history major. “I have to pay all this money for books that I’m only going to use for half a semester.” 

“This semester, I bought all my books, and it was $760,” said Holli Miller, sophomore psychology major.

An email will be sent out to all students 35 days before Fall 2022 classes begin to opt in or out of the program. If students choose to opt in, they are able to choose whether they have the books delivered or if they pick them up in a bundle. The book program is mostly rental with the exception of online access codes or lab manuals. 

Some librarians have mixed feelings about the new program. “Some students are going to benefit and save a lot of money, and some students are going to be overpaying,” said Becca Neel, assistant director of resource management and user experience. 

Neel said the opt out feature is an important aspect of the program. “It’s necessary for students to be informed as to how much they will be paying for their course materials,” Neel said.

“I think from the university standpoint, if we really do care about removing these financial barriers, the necessary financial barriers for students, then we need to go beyond programs like this,” Neel said. “We need to be intentional about building sustainable ways to not charge students extra money above tuition.”