Monday, February 13, 2012

Grow Custom: University Readers

In our continuing series on the Grow Custom initiative, today's highlighted sponsor is University Readers (CAMEX Booth 3323 -- New Exhibitor Area).

1) What do you see as the future of custom course materials?

The future would be for providing students and faculty more choice. Today's students are growing up in middle and high school with access to wide variety of educational resources, beyond off-the-shelf textbooks. They will have different expectations about materials, options, and what kinds of tools best mach course objectives. Custom is a natural fit for these new expectations. For faculty, not being bound by pre-set content, and having the flexibility to choose what best aligns with the course, opens the door for creativity and higher engagement. And, technology and publisher awareness is making the process of starting custom much easier. I see a wider adoption of custom as younger faculty matriculate up through the ranks as well, because younger faculty we speak with relish the opportunity to express their points of view.

2) What role do you see for stores with custom course materials in the future?

Stores can be a facilitator, champion, and proponent of custom. Not only is custom is good for the classroom environment, but it's also a value-added service stores can provide to faculty. "Smart custom", materials that are uniquely designed and 100% relevant for the course, create a stronger, recurring revenue stream for the stores, with a product that is relatively closed-circuit. The challenge, of course, is that it's tough to scale a robust marketing and fulfillment operations with custom being only a part of the bookstore services. The bookstores support the entire university for materials and supplies; while custom is a terrific approach to course materials, it also requires some commitment and time-share. We think that closer working relationships with custom partners can be positive, helping stores scale their services and grow custom on their campus.

3) What makes your product or service unique? What products or services do you offer in this space?
University Readers provides full course pack and custom textbook services. Like you'd expect, we do full copyright clearance and indemnification, a variety of print and digital formats (laptops, iPads, droid tablets, etc.), and an exceptional turnaround time of 2-3 weeks. What makes us unique is 3 benefits to stores: 1.) our publisher partnerships, which provide about 120,000 readings from top academic publishers like Routledge, University of Chicago Press, Perseus Books, and more in our online library. Faculty can mix-and-match on content online, and order their course pack; 2.) our one-on-one reference consultation services with faculty, which help bridge syllabi and learning outcomes to readings. This helps bring brand-new faculty to custom; 3.) our targeted marketing approach can find faculty teaching courses more apt to custom, with suggestions for content based on the tens of thousands of readings and projects we've done over the years. We're ready to partner with stores to help them grow custom on their campus.

4) Who should stores contact for more information?
Contact Christopher Foster, General Vice President at, or Mike Simpson, Vice President Sales and Acquisitions at We will also be at CAMEX and the New Exhibitor Hall at Booth #3323, and presenting ourselves during the Technology Product Spotlight.
Thanks so much!

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