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Amazon textbook contract ending in December 2018

(Oi Roppa/Flickr: Creative Commons)

Amazon has been known on campus for their student deals and fast shipping. But as of December 2018, this may change.

On Monday evening, Student Government Association (SGA) President Anthony Vitale announced that Amazon will be ending its contract as the official textbook provider for the University of Massachusetts in December 2018.

“If you ordered through the Amazon Store, you got the benefit of the Prime shipping rate and textbook special offers and special deals,” Vitale said. What some may consider to be convenient textbook sales won’t completely be lost though, since Amazon will still be selling textbooks online.

“They just won’t be doing it through the University Prime deal that we have associated with them,” Vitale said.

The decision was made by the monthly student advisory board led by UMass Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance Andrew Mangels. Executive Director of Administration and Finance Operations Ruth Yanka led the operation.

The hunt for a sponsoring textbook provider is still on the horizon for administrators. “The University is currently going out to bid for another textbook supplier. They really don’t want to have to reintroduce the brick-and-mortar facility like we had previously,” Vitale explained.

Without the special textbook deals that the Amazon partnership provides for UMass, the cost of textbooks could increase financial burdens on students. However, many members of the Student Government Association stay hopeful. SGA Senator Jacob Morizio reasoned that “a lot of students will have to resort to other methods of purchasing textbooks.”

“I’m interested to see how UMass will substitute this loss in the near future and hope that this issue is resolved effectively,” Morizio added.

The lack of accessibility to Amazon textbooks could lead to other inexpensive alternatives for both students and professors alike. SGA Senator Benjamin Stone stands as an advocate for the push away from the Amazon textbook deal, which he deems unfair. Referring to external sources, such as using open educational resources such as open, online textbooks, Stone views the switch as an opportunity for UMass students to save money.

“Open textbooks makes sure that students don’t have to pay for textbooks to attend a certain class. Instead, a faculty-written textbook is provided for free to students,” Stone said.

At the SGA meeting, Vitale explained that Amazon is the official textbook provider, but the profits for textbooks are split with the University. This led to the discontinuation of the contract. Additionally, with bids up in the air for a new official textbook provider, the Amazon store may be coming to an end.

“Really, they do not know at all yet,” Vitale explained. “It all depends on what companies apply for this bid and what those companies are able to do.”

 

Gretchen Keller can be reached at gkeller@umass.edu.

 

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