New textbook policy: ‘not a viable option’ 21

By Chase Parnell

Photo provided.

Textbook Butler, a new way for students to order textbooks from the book store on campus, will be implemented on campus in the fall semester.

Darren Campbell, chief executive officer of Tree of Life Bookstores, along with Student Senate, bookstore faculty and Julie Hendryx, interim business and finance vice president, met April 24 to discuss the book model changes next year.

Although the administration has prepared for the changes, former student body president Daniel Binkoski and former vice president Jason Wright (Binkoski and Wright handed power over to the 2013-14 student body president, Luke McConnell, on May 8) said the changes are not beneficial to the student body.

“I think in its current form, as presented in senate, it’s not a viable option,” Binkoski said. “It’s not nearly as flexible as it needs to be.”

The new bookstore model adds a new opt in and opt out feature that will ensure books are ordered and delivered to students before classes begin. Students who opt in must buy all of their textbooks, not just some, from the bookstore.

“I think Textbook Butler is a good win-win for all three sides,” Hendryx said. “For the faculty, it stresses the importance that students have their textbooks. For students, it gives them a good option for those who want to get their textbooks from the bookstore, and for the bookstore it solves the macro-problem of the business model.”

However, Wright said he disagrees with the Textbook Butler program.

“Personally, I don’t think he’s [Campbell] very attentive to students’ needs,” Wright said. “I don’t think he understands what students want from the bookstore. It’s the students that are making the sacrifice on this … there’s three parties you need to make happy, and the students got left out on this one, and they are getting the worse end of this.”

Textbook Butler will be linked on the Huntington portal website, where students have the option to opt out per-semester.

The new book model automatically opts all students in on the system, but students may go to the portal and choose to opt out. If a student does not opt out, he or she will have to get every book for all of their classes through the bookstore. The books will be in their dorm room when they arrive at the university in August.

“They are losing the option of buying from the bookstore only the books that they want,” Hendryx said. “That’s probably a con for students. They can’t just pick and choose what books they want from the bookstore anymore.”

Although most students will have the option to opt out, Student Senate and administrators are still debating on whether freshmen will get that decision at all. Freshmen may be required to opt in the first semester, but that matter has yet to be decided.

“Either all students are opted in automatically, and they can opt out if they want, freshmen included, or make all of them [freshmen] do that for the first semester,” Binkoski said, “which I don’t think is the right thing to do at all. This hasn’t been decided yet.”

Binkoski said the bookstore will still stock some books in limited supply, but the plan is to completely phase that out within a few years. He said this is not in the best interest of the students, but it is being pursued anyways.

Wright said he doesn’t think automatically opting students in is the right decision.

“Forcing students into it is not the way to do it,” he said.

Hendryx said she would take that into consideration.

Although Student Senate was informed about Textbook Butler, Binkoski and Wright said they disliked the timeliness of their inclusion.

“I was made aware of it a month ago,” Binkoski said. “I had a meeting with Julie Hendryx for 30 minutes to find out what it was, and at that point they were at the place where they were like ‘this is Textbook Butler, we’re probably going with it.’”

Wright said Student Senate was not properly informed of the changing model.

“On this decision, it never went to students before it was already decided,” he said.

Hendryx said they did not intentionally not inform them about the changing book store policies.

“I think I looked at it from a standpoint that ‘it’s a broken business model’ that had to change,” she said. “I would appreciate some of their perspectives on how to make it work, but it was not my intention to not include Senate.”

Patrick Eckhardt, director of marketing for Tree of Life Bookstores, said the new bookstore model offers price structures adaptive to the market. Rental prices, he said, are competitive with used book prices on

With the new model, the bookstore “can be more aggressive in the market,” Eckhardt said. “Typically, the price structure will be more adaptive to the market. It’s better for us, it’s better for you.”

Wright, however, said Textbook Butler isn’t competitive in the market.

“I don’t get where he [Eckhardt] gets that idea from,” he said. “His rental prices were comparable to the cheapest buying prices on Amazon. You can’t compare rental prices to used book prices.”

Forty-eight percent of students buy or rent from the bookstore, according to Hendryx’s data. Thirty-six percent of the total textbook sales are through the bookstore website. The bookstore sold $150,000 in textbooks August 2012, and the sales for the whole semester were $167,000.

“The bookstore returned $148,000 that semester,” said Hendryx. “Prior to the fall of 2012, one major book distributor for Tree of Life told them they would not sell books to Tree of Life if they continued to have such high returns.”

Binkoski said he has had frustrations with the bookstore in the past and hopes the situation will be resolved soon.

“In my experience, the bookstore is not competitive at all,” he said. “They say … they will lower prices, but they didn’t give any numbers. They are actually not that competitive with online markets.”

UPDATE: Binkoski said May 9 that it had been decided freshmen will not have to opt in and will be given the opt out option like other students.

21 thoughts on “New textbook policy: ‘not a viable option’

  1. Reply Zeke Barber May 9,2013 12:48 am

    If this concept is not the most stupid thing I’ve ever heard, then I don’t know what is. Seriously, all or nothing? What kind of business model is that? I have a feeling you’re going to be getting a little bit of “all” and a lot more of “nothing”. The bookstore is not very price competitive. Just this semester I SAVED over $400 dollars by purchasing my books (most of them new) via Amazon. If they were as price competitive as they say they are they wouldn’t have a problem selling books – people would be more than willing to buy from them. Also, opting everyone “In” is very silly. First off – it’s a great way to upset students who weren’t aware of the change. Even more so – why would we mandate that first semester freshman purchase their books? What are they, 4? We claim to be educating ADULTS to become leaders but yet we need to wipe their mouth after they eat (mandated book buying). You aren’t teaching responsibility by forcing them to purchase over-priced books. You’re just lining the pockets of the book store while making the student body suffer. To add to that, we are trying to push enrollment UP, not DOWN. If someone is on the fringe of going to HU as opposed to another school, do you really think that mandated over priced book purchases will “seal the deal” for us? No. It won’t.

  2. Reply Adam Neumeyer May 9,2013 1:17 am

    I don’t know if this will be better or worse for students, but I’m frustrated to see students required to get even more aspects of student life exclusively through the university. We already have centralized food which does nothing for us but make us pay too much for too little quality and no flexibility. I’m worried requiring students to get books through the bookstore, even if it’s only some students or only under certain conditions, is a step in the direction of the relationship I have with Sodexo.

    We literally preach capitalism from the pulpit. Why do none of our systems look anything like free market?

  3. Reply Kaleigh Hohenthaner May 9,2013 1:19 am

    If your plan is to eliminate the book store completely you are succeeding….Who is going to agree to buy over priced books? when you can go online and almost always get the books cheaper. Instead of trying to force and all or nothing…maybe you should try to actually make the books compatible prices with online prices. Perhaps you would get more people buying on campus.

    I can’t speak for everyone but I know that I almost always save $200 or more when I shop online or rent from other places like Chegg etc. Yeah it is convenient to get on campus…but college students are already being sucked dry by the ever growing cost of even attending college.. .

  4. Reply Justin S May 9,2013 1:34 am

    As a recent grad this makes me happy I finished when I did! I remember a professor telling her class that they were always welcome to buy their supplies from the bookstore but that it’d be at a higher cost. She countered this by saying that the bookstore would be the easiest and quickest option. “It’s there for your convenience.”

    Whether the HU bookstore wants to be there for convenience or not I believe it should be. Students are tech savvy. If the bookstore was not there then they’d find their own way to get a hold of books and there is no way that the HU bookstore can compete with the likes of Amazon or I know the professors are there to help students and often help them find the best deals, why can’t the administration do the same?

  5. Reply Daniel Beaver May 9,2013 2:56 am

    I feel like I have to say this every week here, but this is the most ridiculous thing ive ever heard of. When were students going to find out about this? would I have to walk into my room next year and see a stack of books demanding to be OVER paid for? If they force freshmen to do this then what is to stop them from raising the price on books and dropping the unwanted bill on them? I’ve never heard of anything like this from any other school anywhere.

  6. Reply Daniel Binkoski May 9,2013 3:48 am

    Some good news is that it has now been officially decided that freshmen will not be required to opt in to the program. They will have the same opt out option as normal students.

  7. Reply James Parker May 9,2013 9:08 am

    Great idea IF scholarships are raised in proportion to the added expenses of having to buy all the textbooks from the bookstore. Otherwise “Ain’t nobody got time (or money) for this.”

  8. Reply Brian Kirschbaum May 9,2013 9:57 am

    “The bookstore returned $148,000 that semester,” said Hendryx. “Prior to the fall of 2012, one major book distributor for Tree of Life told them they would not sell books to Tree of Life if they continued to have such high returns.”

    The high return part of this quote, along with faculty even considering freshmen to be forced into ‘buying in’ should concern students to the integrity of this store. Essentially the bookstore considered forcing new students to pay premium prices without giving any other viable option. Sounds like a great way to create an economically unfair monopoly for growth at the expense of new students.

  9. Reply Anonymous May 9,2013 10:59 am

    This news doesn’t surprise me considering HU already charges students over $11 per meal through Sodexo and requires students to live on campus in over-priced housing. What does surprise me is the “logic” behind the decision. Making this move because it improves the “business model” is absolutely hilarious. If creating a monopoly is a business model, then maybe you are on to something…but creating a monopoly is actually illegal. The bookstore continues to display poor ethics and clearly is not concerned with serving the student body. I love this University, and I hope it continues to thrive for years to come…but policies like this and the Sodexo mess are not sustainable options. Competition is fierce in this industry, especially in this part of the country. It’s a good thing HU is pursuing an Arizona campus, because this one is clearly in trouble.

  10. Reply Disappointed Graduate May 9,2013 12:56 pm

    This is another example of HU making decisions that directly benefit the university and its administrators/business partners over the students. The institution at which i currently work has a similar model, and it is disastrously inefficient and is not cost-effective for students attempting to cut costs for already-expensive Christian higher education. If HU and similar institutions want to avoid pricing themselves out of the market, they need to worry more about the “add-on” costs of college rather than the “tuition price.” It looks like this is an attempt to keep the university financially healthy at the expense of offering appropriate options to students. Moves like this that alienate students (and alumni, like me) while financially expedient in the short run, will damage their reputation and ability to request funds from their donor base in the long run. It is not a smart way to do higher education, and in conjunction with various other policy decisions made since I walked a few years ago, has caused me to distance myself from the institution.

  11. Reply Concerned May 9,2013 1:24 pm

    This is a win-win situation in my opinion. There is now a better “business model” and I no longer have to face the dilemma of where to get my books because I can go straight to Amazon without any second thoughts. I don’t see how this benefits the university in any way except maybe for the fact that they might be able to trick some students who forget to “opt-out” before the semester starts. Too many decisions are being made “to benefit students” without consulting them first.

  12. Reply Unkown May 9,2013 1:44 pm

    For once I wish this University would include students in their thought process of making decisions that are supposed to be beneficial. Most of the choices made for student only are good for a select amount of none. Think of the students rather than money.

  13. Reply Raquel Martinez May 9,2013 1:56 pm

    Like “Concerned” said, this just means that I will NEVER buy another book from the bookstore. Simple as that. Have fun with your “business model”. Amazon is going to appreciate it!

  14. Reply Eric Spencer Fomley May 9,2013 2:07 pm

    “rental prices will be competitive with Amazon used books.” All that told me is pay the same amount to Amazon and you can keep them instead of give them back to the bookstore…
    This is by far the most ridiculous “business model” I have ever seen. All or nothing is NEVER the way to be a competitive company or consumer friendly.

  15. Reply Joshua Nicholson May 9,2013 2:51 pm

    This may look like something that will negatively affect the students, but I think it is important to remember that all of the students are being given a choice to opt-out. So, go ahead and buy your textbooks online if you want to save money–that is what I did. But, if you value convenience over savings, opt-in and have your books waiting for you when you arrive. If you are concerned that students will be “tricked” into opting in, make posters and spread the information via word of mouth.

    As long as there exists a choice for students to opt in our out, the viability of this business model will be decided by the students who either choose convenience or thrift.

  16. Reply Raquel Martinez May 9,2013 6:13 pm

    It is nice that we can opt out, since that’s what I’m gonna be doing. But I have friends that are science/nursing majors whose text/lab books are printed specifically for HU and therefore, they have to buy those books from the bookstore, which means they have to buy all of their books from the bookstore. So there are plenty of students who will not have the option to choose, and I think that’s unfair.

  17. Reply Jenneh Sheetz May 9,2013 7:01 pm

    Well, it sounds great for incoming freshmen and maybe super rich kids who don’t care; they usually order all their books from the bookstore with their parents anyway. But for students who are a little more seasoned or just a little more savvy with their hard-earned cash, its not a viable option. I’m a English Grad, I usually paid a dollar or less or even read books for free online when the bookstore charged upwards of fifteen bucks per title. Granted, I usually missed a textbook when purchasing online or occasionally found one cheaper in the bookstore and ended up buying it the first or second day of classes, but I usually bought or rented the bulk of my textbooks online. I think I saved at least a thousand dollars throughout the course of my four college years at Huntington.
    I think in retrospect, I’m really glad I graduated from Huntington University while there was still a University to graduate from. It seems like many recent decisions are being made to better suit the interests of the University rather than the interests of the students.

  18. Reply Anonymous May 12,2013 6:50 pm

    How exactly can students opt out of this?

  19. Reply Kris Burgess May 31,2013 11:51 am

    Based on the comments, it seems that this idea is obviously bad, as the policy now stands. If changes are to be made, who knows, it may be a more viable option.

    But, in light of the fact that the them of the Class of 2013’s graduation was “Hey new grads, even though you probably have mountains of debt and are unemployed, you should give money to HU, now rather than later,” I am not surprised at all.

    I hope that student government and others can work to force the hand of the administration to ensure that HU does not fall completely to the wayside.

    I would think that this goes against the grain of free-market capitalism that is so strongly stressed in HU’s business dept.


    Anyways, to all incoming and current HU students, I am so sorry that policies are being implemented that are not putting you first. Continue to be a voice for change, for positive change that would force HU to emphasize its students before its profits. I will be doing what I can to help this become a reality, as even though I am an alum with plenty of complaints about HU, I am also very proud to be a Forester. Keep fighting the good fight!

  20. Reply Chris Hirschy Aug 15,2013 2:21 pm

    I haven’t read this article but I have heard about this new policy. Also, I haven’t read any of the comments, so forgive me if I repeat what others have said.

    With that said, this new policy is horrible. There could be an argument for how this policy could be beneficial to students but only from those who do not need to adhere to the policy. When I was a student (just 1 year ago) there were many times when I would get all my books for the bookstore. However, there were also plenty of times when I would order a couple books from the web and then buy one or two from the bookstore. Now, students must choose. What about that one book that you can’t find anywhere but the bookstore? What about that book you decided you weren’t going to get? None of these options are available now. It is either all or nothing. Further, it is my understanding that incoming freshman must use this service for the first year?!


    I understand that those in charge of the bookstore probably made this policy because they weren’t making money at times because they would order books and then not sell enough to turn a profit. Yet I wonder, why is the book store in existence in the first place? Because of the students. This policy says something to the effect of, thank you students for doing business with us. Now, you have no choice!!! Give us your money!!! Christ@center@HU huh???

    If I were still a student I would encourage the campus to go elsewhere with their money. Most books are already over priced and now there isn’t an option to chose the few that aren’t.

    I encourage the student body to push for this policy to be overturned.

    Again, this is not high school. Students have the choice to get books from wherever they like. Why would the bookstore make a policy that forces students to not use them at all?

    All in all, this is a very unfair, poorly thought out policy that needs to be revoked.

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