How COVID-19 has affected the campus bookstore

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Photo by Roman Russell

Miina McCown/ The Broadside

E-books have been growing increasingly relevant in the last decade, and the current pandemic has only strengthened their popularity. Recently collected statistics in an article by Forbes shows that e-book reading has boomed amidst the lock down, and that multiple mobile reading platforms have seen up to a 30% increase of downloads at the start of quarantine.

With the large increase of interest in e-books and audio books, how has it affected printed books and bookstores that rely heavily on the sales of printed material?

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The Central Oregon Community College campus bookstore, with its main location in Newberry Hall in the Bend campus sells textbooks, academic supplies, publications, software, electronics, greeting cards, crafting items, snacks, gifts and other items. The Campus Mail and Campus Copy Center are also located in the bookstore, and the store is used by both COCC and Oregon State University-Cascades students.

Lori Benefiel, the Director of Auxiliary Services notes that the bookstore has had digital material available for a number of years, and since the emergence of COVID-19, it has increased its amount of digital content by approximately 200% from last year.

Due to the pandemic, the bookstore building has closed to the public but has offered online ordering, curbside pickup as well as email and phone service. The bookstore will continue to function in this manner throughout the 2021 Winter term.

Besides the changes that almost every business have had to make in order to function throughout the current conditions, there are many other ways that the campus bookstore has been influenced by COVID-19.

Not only has it entirely switched its methods of merchandise distribution, but it has also seen some new additions to its collection of items. In addition to its usual selection of books, snacks and office supplies the bookstore is currently providing face masks and shields, protective eyewear and mask strap extenders. All of these items are available for online ordering and curbside pickup.

Benefiel notes that the bookstore has seen a decrease in overall sales as a result of the pandemic. “Since the college remains closed to the public, the bookstore has not seen any type of recovery at this time.”

“There is a large amount of non-textbook inventory available for purchase on the website. Not every item that is in the bookstore is on the website but there is a strong presence of academic and non-academic merchandise. It’s been a challenge, but staff have been resilient, and students have been patient while the transition to online ordering occurred,” Benefiel said.

 

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