UMass Amherst and Amazon team up to create virtual bookstore for students

The University of Massachusetts Amherst announced today they have contracted with Amazon.com to provide a virtual bookstore for their students. The Amazon.com virtual bookstore will replace the traditional bookstore that is currently on the campus. According to the announcement, there is a potential for students to save an average of $380 per year.

According to James P. Sheehan, Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance at UMass Amherst, the university knows students have been struggling with the cost of textbook and have been moving towards purchasing book online. UMass believes that “by seamlessly linking our online campus information system to Amazon, we will make it convenient as well as economical for students to get the items they need for their classes, delivered in one day with no shipping charge to campus and nearby addresses.”

Students will be able to start using Amazon.com to find their textbooks in May. Amazon will allow students to order new, used, rental and digital textbook and other materials through their website. In addition, there will be links in SPIRE, UMass’s online student information system. To make it even easier for students, Amazon will open a staffed customer pick-up and drop-off location on the UMass campus in the current textbook annex.

While there will be a customer service location on campus, students can also choose to have items shipped to campus or their homes. UMass students will receive one-day free shipping to campus and to addresses in nearby communities where many students live. Other items not required or recommended for courses will not be eligible for free one-day shipping. However, if students are Amazon Student or Amazon Prime members who typically receive free two-day shipping, they will now be able to get non-academic items with free one-day shipping to campus or the surrounding communities.

Officials at UMass Amherst said they chose Amazon from a group of six companies that submitted proposals. They said they chose Amazon “because of its low prices and its ability to deliver superior customer service.” In addition to providing a virtual bookstore for students, Amazon will also work with faculty “to college information on required and recommended textbooks and course materials each semester.”

Previously the bookstore on campus was run by Follett Corp. and had items such as textbooks, clothing, and computers available for sale. Follett Corp. will still sell clothing and computers on campus, but textbooks will only be available through Amazon.

This is Amazon.com’s third virtual bookstore contract with a university. They are currently working with Purdue University and the University of California, Davis. There is no news of other universities who are working with Amazon, but this may be a new trend in how students get their college textbooks.

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