Simpson College switches to an online bookstore


Abby Hintz

Students can access a personalized course page by logging onto the online bookstore with their Simpson emails.

by Abby Hintz, Staff Reporter

Simpson College students received an email from SCCommuncations informing the student body that the college was switching to a new online bookstore model starting during the Spring 2023 term.

Students can access a personalized course page by logging onto the online bookstore with their Simpson emails. The personalized course page lists students’ registered courses and the textbooks that professors have assigned.

Students who have had trouble can email Kyle McVay, director of the Spirit Shop, for help or if they have any questions.

I will say there were very few students who came in this semester not knowing the change that took place, but we have signage with a QR code to direct students to the new bookstore site,” McVay said. “There were a couple of cases where students didn’t have the information available to them, but that was due to missing information from the instructor, which was resolved within 24 hours.”

Some students don’t use the online bookstore offered by Simpson. Instead, they prefer Amazon, Chegg, or other websites that sell textbooks. 

Wendy Soto, a junior majoring in theatre, and Kate Minette, a sophomore majoring in graphic design and computer information systems, explained that they use other websites to order textbooks. 

Simpson no longer sells textbooks in person, meaning students can’t see the physical copy before they buy it. Soto’s friend ordered a textbook from the online bookstore and received a book that was beaten up and didn’t have a cover.

“I think it is more convenient to see what book you are getting to see how beat up it is before you get it,” Soto said.

Students received reminder emails from the bookstore reminding them to order their textbooks. Soto and Minette both found it helpful. Soto and Minette also didn’t see a difference compared to the website that Simpson used previously. 

Professors enter what textbooks they need for each class they are teaching through an online form. Before the switch, professors would have to fill out an Excel sheet. Justin Nostrala, professor of graphic design, experienced no challenges with the new bookstore and found it easier and much smoother to use.

Simpson decided to switch to a purely online bookstore because of the transition to the self-operated spirit shop. Thus, the search for an online textbook provider began. The college had three options to consider, and Akademos was the winning provider.

Akademos offers options to save money, has access to new or used textbooks that students can rent or buy, and also offers e-books. The service gives students access to a nationwide marketplace that allows them to sell back any textbooks, even if they weren’t purchased through Akademos.

“Akademos works with many Iowa colleges, and we checked references at Wartburg, Central, Clarke, Coe, Mercy College of Health Sciences, and Buena Vista. The feedback I received couldn’t have been more positive, and the students and faculty raved about Akademos,” Megan Shultz, director of presidential initiatives, said. “We worked very closely with the team at Akademos during our transition, and they were nothing short of phenomenal to ensure a smooth transition for our students and faculty on a very short timeline.”