After a year of serving Stony Brook students, Amazon will no longer be the official campus bookstore retailer for the university starting this summer.
In an agreement with Amazon Campus, the Amazon Pick-Up location opened for the Fall 2016 semester. Under this partnership, students are able to order course materials on Amazon and have them delivered to the Amazon lockers located on the basement level of the Frank Melville Jr. Library.
Students will still be able to order course materials from the Amazon website throughout the Spring 2018 semester and receive their required materials at the pick-up location. While students can technically still order textbooks from Amazon, the company will soon no longer serve as the official Stony Brook University bookstore retailer.
According to the Office of the Bookstore Liaison website, the search for a new provider is the result of a nationwide change in Amazon’s business model. While the company will no longer provide customized course material services to higher education institutions, the library pick-up location will remain open.
“Amazon gave us a year’s notice that they were withdrawing from their contract with us, saying that they won’t be servicing us after that time,” Vlad Moraru, office manager of the Office of the Bookstore Liaison, said. “When we asked why, they told us that they were no longer going to be working as a bookstore.”
Amazon did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The bidding process began when the office submitted a Request for Proposals (RFP) on July 31, which was initiated by the Faculty Student Association (FSA), to gather bidders. As outlined on the FSA’s timeline, confirmation of these RFPs made by Follett Higher Education Group and Barnes & Noble was received on Aug. 7. Both companies attended the FSA’s Mandatory Bidders Conference that was held on Aug. 14, and their final proposals were later reviewed in September.
Open forums were held in October at the Charles B. Wang Center — Follett on Oct. 19 and Barnes & Noble on Oct. 25 — to discuss the plans each company had if chosen as Stony Brook’s bookstore provider.
Prior to the contract with Amazon, Barnes & Noble provided textbooks for students to purchase at Stony Brook in-store. Textbooks and course materials were available in the area of the bookstore that is now a Starbucks location.
“Amazon became the bookstore provider a year ago because the Barnes & Noble contract had ended, and after a competitive bid process, they were selected as the new vendor,” stated Angela Agnello, FSA Director of Marketing and Communications, in an email.
Stony Brook University is not the only school affected by Amazon’s withdrawal. The University of Massachusetts Amherst’s contract with the company is due to expire in December 2018, and they have initiated a search of their own.
UMass Amherst ended their contract with Follett in 2015 in favor of a digital bookstore with Amazon. Reasoning for this change came from the administration’s desire to provide cheaper options for the student body.
Rushaali Patel, a freshman biology major, is in favor of either company as long as they offer satisfactory customer service.
“I think as long as the services are good and fair for everyone, there will be no complaints,” Patel said. “It will be confusing at first because we have to adjust to it. But once we do, it will be another way to order books for class.”
When asked about her experiences with Amazon, Patel was quick to address the speed of shipping.
“I ordered a textbook for my writing class a week before class, but it didn’t come until a week after,” she said. “I had trouble doing homework during that time because I couldn’t answer questions without them.”