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For immediate release — Feb. 20, 2007

(DALLAS) — Dallas County Community College District students will benefit in three ways from a new eight-year bookstore services contract with Follett Higher Education Group Inc., a private company that has operated the district’s campus bookstores since spring 2001.

The new contract contains three key elements that will help students:

  • The district has decided to accept lower commissions for its book sales in order to lower the price of textbooks.
  • DCCCD will receive an “up-front” payment of $350,000 from Follett that the district will use to offer book loans to students.
  • Follett also will provide an additional $50,000 annually to the district for student scholarships.

Members of the DCCCD board of trustees approved the new bookstore services contract during their regular monthly meeting on Feb. 6, 2007. Both parties are scheduled to finalize and sign the document this month; the contract begins March 1, 2007, and was awarded using a competitive, sealed proposal process.

“We place a tremendous amount of emphasis on lowering the cost of textbooks for DCCCD students,” said Steve Ledford, district director of auxiliary services, whose responsibilities include the bookstores on all DCCCD campuses. “Everyone is aware of the national outcry about escalating textbook costs, and we have responded by accepting lower commissions — which reduces costs for students — and by using Follett’s up-front contribution to fund student book loans.”

DCCCD students should see a drop of almost four percent in new textbook prices after the contract begins on March 1; that decrease should save students more than $3 million over the life of the new eight-year contract. Under the current pricing structure, new books are priced at a profit margin of 25 percent; that margin will be reduced to 22 percent under the new contract. “We made a real effort to do what we can to reduce prices for students,” said Ledford.

He added, “The district is very sensitive to the high cost of textbooks, and we will continue to emphasize this issue and make it a high priority. Textbooks are expensive, and there is no easy solution to this problem. We are receptive to any ideas that would help relieve the pricing burden on students, and we also will explore all possibilities as we work to identify workable solutions. I believe that publishers will continue to provide textbooks in formats that will appeal to students, reduce costs, provide excellent educational materials, and allow the bookstore and publishing industries to remain vital.

Under the new contract, DCCCD also receives an “up-front” payment of $350,000 from Follett that DCCCD students can access for book loans. The amount will be shared among the district’s seven colleges, and criteria that students must meet to apply for those book loans will be announced at a later date.  

“Book loans from these funds will enable us to help students who are not able to pay for their books,” said Ledford. “We may be able to provide textbook loans in the amount of $250 to 1,400 students, for example. Of course, students will need to pay back those loans in order to sustain the fund and provide that same opportunity for future students.”

Student scholarships funded by Follett’s annual $50,000 provision also will be divided among DCCCD’s colleges; criteria for bookstore scholarship applications will be announced at a later date.

According to Ledford, a project team that comprised a core group from the district’s textbook committee was responsible for evaluating written proposals and oral presentations from potential vendors. Twelve people sat on the committee, including faculty, administrators and one student each from Brookhaven and North Lake colleges. The process for seeking, evaluating and interviewing vendors took approximately six to eight months, beginning in summer 2006 and ending in January 2007.

“In addition to the reduction in price for new textbooks provided by this contract, we also have placed a lot of emphasis on used textbooks. Follett has promised to offer as many used textbooks as possible,” said Ledford.

For more information, contact Ledford at (972) 860-7739 or call any Follett bookstore at one of DCCCD’s seven colleges: Brookhaven, Cedar Valley, Eastfield, El Centro, Mountain View, North Lake or Richland.

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Press contact: Ann Hatch, 214-860-2478