Friday, May 16, 2014

ICBA President’s Update: May 2014
David Kent, President ICBA Board of Directors

ICBA and indiCo Commit to Collaboration                                      

In my January Update I shared with you the ongoing discussions between ICBA and indiCo toward establishing a collaborative relationship to advance the independent college store channel. Today I am happy to tell you that we have reached agreements with indiCo to collaborate on several significant actions.

Last week the Executive Committee of the ICBA Board of Directors, the Campus eBookstore Board of Directors, and the indiCo Board of Directors met for two days in Denver. Our number one focus was the future of independent college stores in the digital course materials market. Following that we addressed a number of other strategic issues. At that meeting agreement was reached for collaborative actions on the following:

Campus eBookstore
Elevating and escalating industry development
A Joint indiCo, Campus eBookstore, and ICBA Announcement
The indiCo LLC Board of Directors has unanimously approved a resolution to endorse Campus eBookstore Inc. as a premier, store-centered digital content delivery platform, and further advocates that independent college stores adopt the Campus eBookstore platform as a store solution for digital delivery of course materials. Campus eBookstore, Inc. (CEI) is owned and controlled by independent college stores, was designed and developed specifically to support independent college stores, and is managed by a set of unwavering principles that are centered on both the store and the higher education marketplace (see below). 

At industry-related meetings, and through survey responses, independent college stores cited the high priority need for a common and standardized platform for stores to directly sell publisher access codes and ebooks, along with the capability for an integral store role in supporting the course fee-based model for digital content delivery.   In addition, many stores are being asked to support the distribution of Open Educational Resources (OER) and other faculty-generated course materials.  The ability to support all of these functions is found within the CEI platform.

By some estimates, the digital “tipping point” for higher education course materials will occur within the next 36 months.   When this occurs, college stores will need to have fully transitioned their business practices and be in a position to support the sale and distribution of a wide range of course material format options.   “CEI is the only platform, presently, that has kept pace with the evolution of digital course materials” says Ed Schlichenmayer, President of indiCo LLC.  “Stores will be better positioned to serve faculty and student interests in the future, and can offer their institutions the technology capabilities needed to stay relevant with the ongoing advancement of course materials.”

Campus eBookstore was formed through an initiative of Canadian Campus Retail Associates (CCRA), which functions as a technology development incubator on behalf of the twenty-two universities that own CCRA. “The future of any one store is tied to the future of the channel as a whole,” says Chris Tabor, President of CCRA. “Our ability to succeed in the course material market is not about any individual store’s numbers. It is about the number of stores.”

In 2011, recognizing the capabilities of the CEI platform were important to independent stores in the United States, the Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA) invested in CEI and holds a minority ownership interest.  “The market has never been more dynamic, competition has never been more intense, and our future has never been more uncertain,” says David Kent, ICBA President. “These are times that require any organization that lays claim to represent the interest of independent college stores to innovate as we have never innovated before.” With its endorsement of CEI, indiCo is pledging to work collaboratively with both CEI and ICBA in the broader effort of strengthening independent college stores as a viable collegiate retail channel.  

Campus eBookstore, Inc. Principles
  1. The Platform will be licensed or made available by Campus eBookstore for use by independent college store retailers, and will be control by independent college store retailers, and will not be transferred to or controlled by software system vendors or integrators, publishers, book wholesalers, distributors or other vendors of books. 
  2. The Platform will support the capacity for inclusion and distribution of faculty-authored content as well as commercially-available materials.
  3. The business model rules and practices used in concert with the Platform will reflect the academic nature and timings of the collegiate retail marketplace.
  4. The business model rules used in concert with the Platform will support content sales and marketing practices that offer favourable or emphasized terms for university presses and other smaller publishers as defined by Campus eBookstore.
  5. The model used by Campus eBookstore for the use and distribution of the Platform will be scalable with the ability to enable digital distribution for the broadest range of college stores (as defined by sales volume and campus enrollments).

Centralized Channel Data
Building a credible voice for the independent college store channel
To develop a trustworthy voice in which administrators can believe, requires that we have the data, knowledge and insights that authenticate our positions. Toward that goal ICBA and indiCo will invest in commissioned research into retail technology standards, how digital content is being received and experienced by campus administrators, faculty and students, trends in campus decision-making regarding the institutional college store management model, and the collection and analysis of independent college store practices and financial performance.

Professional Development
Retail training for college store professionals
Building on the success of the ICBA Institute model, ICBA and indiCo will collaborate to provide both a rich curriculum and a format that delivers the skill sets necessary to succeed with new business models for individual store staff, and the store as a whole.

Building a Committed Buying and Sourcing Service
Functioning as a virtual chain
Using the ICBA Commit-Buy-Sell program as our foundation, ICBA and indiCo will collaborate to deliver a committed buying and sourcing service to independent college stores.

As you can see, we are intent on tackling the most significant issues of our channel head-on. We continue to be guided by the ICBA Promise:
  • Exclusive institutional store sharing
  • Unsurpassed buying programs
  • Industry-leading professional development
  • Decision-making voice & pride of ownership

I will be updating you as plans unfold.  

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