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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Amazon partnership: The 98 percent

Nov. 22, 2013 marked UC Davis’ embarkment on a unique partnership with Amazon, the massively successful online shopping website. UC Davis is the first university to partner with Amazon in this venture.

The program, as currently implemented, allows UC Davis to earn a little over two percent of all profit gained by Amazon when students shop on either Amazon.com using their UC Davis email addresses, or at the UC Davis storefront, davis.amazon.com.

The University is trying to help its students in this partnership with Amazon and it is admirable, to a certain degree. However, the collaboration with Amazon misses the point entirely. The money that the University receives will be directed back toward student funds. Part of the profit, at least $40,000, will be used to create a textbook scholarship to help students in need. The rest of the money will be used to help support other student programs on campus.

It’s nice to see money going back to the students, as it rarely does, but the University seems to believe that this partnership will provide an additional source of revenue for itself as well as quelling the masses of students who have been vocal about the ever-rising prices of textbooks. The problem with this thinking is that it attempts to mask a much larger problem: the ridiculous cost of required materials at the UC Davis Store.

The UC Davis Store is supposedly a service to the students that provides “the tools of education at the lowest possible cost.” This has not been the case, as evidenced by the large number of students who shop elsewhere, such as Amazon, when buying textbooks. Clearly, Amazon has been taking away business from the bookstore.

Yet, the University is under the impression that the deal with Amazon “will generate significant revenue for the University and [does] not believe it will harm [its] in-store sales.” After all, 2 percent of sales can add up to quite a bit.

While this may be true (we doubt it), there seems to be a much easier way of creating sustained revenue for the University through the bookstore: lower the prices.

It is asinine enough to be asked to buy or rent the newest edition of a textbook that only differs from an older version by a new picture on the cover and/or a rearrangement of chapters. The least the University could do is lower its prices to be semi-competitive with other textbook retailers.

Beyond that, this seems to be the “win-win” situation that UC Davis is yearning for. The University would be able to earn more money through students actually purchasing books from the bookstore. Instead of a measly two percent, UC Davis would actually earn 100 percent of the profit sold from these books.

This plan also allows students to actually purchase textbooks at a reasonable price and be winners of the deal. Instead of allowing other companies to provide for students’ needs, do it yourself. Provide affordable textbooks that students would be able to purchase.

Let’s face it, the students need the money way more than Amazon does.

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