Greetings! It’s time for another update from your OACS board!

Industry Updates

Several board members attended the ICBA annual conference earlier this month in sunny Tuscon, Arizona. It was much cooler than expected, but we enjoyed the blue skies, sunshine, and excellent education and networking opportunities!

The Course Materials Institute (CMI) occurred before the conference with just over 60 individuals in attendance. Jon Bibo, ICBA CEO, and his staff spent a brief time reflecting on course materials “as they were.” Do you remember when the biggest issues were getting faculty adoptions on time? Today, while we face the same struggles with faculty adoptions, but the greater challenges relate to the complexity of managing alternative sourcing, Inclusive Access programs, OER, declining buyback, LMS integration, publisher rentals, POS digital sales, and decreased responsiveness by major publishers.

The Institute presenters walked through all of these topics with valuable insights that culminated in, in my view, the highlight of the Institute. Participants were placed on teams and given group projects. The assignment was to prepare a five-minute presentation regarding the future of course materials. Several teams worked on the 1-2 year outlook while other teams worked on the 3-5 year outlook. A common theme was a shift from course materials as a revenue source to a service model. Sustaining current revenue in a landscape of decreasing margins will become increasingly difficult. Adding to the struggle are publisher

“direct to consumer” efforts which will further complicate our business. Campuses report seeing an increase of faculty working directly with the publisher and the LMS staff to integrate without the store’s knowledge or input. Do you know if this is happening on your campus?

A second theme was relationship management by telling your story. Your story is one that needs told with data, that is what the administrators expect. For instance, do you know your vendor performance numbers in course materials? How much of the campus market does the vendor have? What is the sell-through with that vendor? We usually know this data for general merchandise, but we need to know it for course materials too. When that vendor comes to your administration with a ‘deal’, can you provide numbers to show if what there offering is actually advantageous? As Heather Dean with Iowa State stated, “If you

can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Taking the driver's seat is key. Telling stories is something I often did with my kids. We would tell segment stories where somebody would start the story and each person took turns at 1-minute intervals adding to the story. The person who started the story had the advantage of setting the direction it would go. Everyone else was responding to the original teller. If you tell your story, you are entering a partnership as you talk with administrators, publishers, faculty, and students. You set the tone and direction going forward.

After CMI, we moved into the ICBA conference. Store, vendor, and industry experts shared encouraging information and wholly agreed across all presentations that retail is not dead! Statistics like - 5000 more stores opened than closed last year, the online sales return rate is 30% while in-store is 8.89%, and the fact that Amazon is opening physical stores - were great points to ponder. We were challenged by presentations on creative thinking (by the way, 80% of creativity is learned, not natural), looking at other industries for inspiration, challenging why we do things the way we do them, and the process of discovery. The challenges we face are either walls that stop us in our tracks or challenges for us to step back and create a better opportunity. Business is like a maze. We try to predict the way, occasionally we run into dead ends, but there is always a way if we are willing to do the work to find it.


The annual store Spring Meeting will take place at Ohio Wesleyan on Monday, April 6 from 10a-2p. There is no charge for this event, but we do need a head-count for food, so please register online at by March 20. The Fall conference and trade show will be at Ashland University on October 12-13. Watch e-mail for more details.

Final thoughts

As always, reach out to board members and industry colleagues if there is any way we can assist you. We stand strong together!


Tammy Slone

OACS President

Greetings! It’s time for another update from your OACS board!

Fall Conference Wrap-Up

Thanks to everyone who attended the Fall Conference at Ashland University! It was a wonderful time of celebrating 50 years as an organization. Forty-four individuals representing 23 schools were in attendance. Congratulations to Ohio Wesleyan and Southern Seminary, two university stores which have recently moved to independent. It was great to see you at the conference! We also had tremendous vendor support with 44 companies represented! The booth visit cards collected at the trade show indicate that individuals from schools visited an average of 16.37 vendors each and wrote orders 20.9% of the time.

The conference presented attendees with many learning and networking opportunities. Some highlights from the conference include the attendance of 10 past Presidents (including the very first President from 1969!) and recognition of vendor Russell Knight who has been with OACS since the beginning. Industry experts led sessions on marketing and social media, general merchandise trends, smart sourcing, and inventory management. The new NACS CEO, Ed Schlichenmayer, gave updates on the industry and NACS during a well-attended session. Roundtable discussions were also a favorite as course materials managers, general merchandise buyers, and store directors broke out into small groups to learn from each other. Thanks to everyone who gave us survey feedback after the conference. Your feedback helps the board effectively plan around your interests and is appreciated!

Next October, we will be returning to Ashland University for the Fall conference. The facility is perfect for our conference size. Lower expenses at this venue enabled us to decrease registration fees. We will be announcing a date soon, so watch your email!

Spring 2020 Meeting

Plans are beginning for the Spring store meeting, which will be at Ohio Wesleyan in Delaware sometime in April. The meeting is free to store members and includes lunch. Watch your e-mail for upcoming details. Thanks to Mike Brockfield at OWU for hosting us!

Industry Updates

We were sad to hear of the passing of Anthony Martin on November 10. Anthony was a huge supporter of the industry during his career. He served as a vendor, store manager, and, most recently, a NACS employee. While I personally only met Anthony a couple of times, I could see the genuine heart he had for people and the industry. The NACS Foundation has set up a memorial fund in Anthony’s name. You can find more information on how you can give to the fund at IndiCo continues the wind-down of its book business. In a November 11 communication, they announced that final returns on books must be received at their warehouse by December 31. This is the final step in the transition of their book distribution business to Ingram. IndiCo and Ingram have been working to make the transition as seamless as possible. If you need assistance, reach out to either company, they will be glad to give further details on account set-up, establishing credit limits, etc.

The next industry events include Tailgate in Las Vegas, January 16-18, ICBA in Tuscon, February 3-6, and CAMEX in New Orleans, February 8-11. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”― William Butler Yeats. I encourage you to commit the coming year to learn for success. Attending industry events helps you navigate the challenges that will surely come. It is money and time well spent!

Final Thoughts

The college bookstore industry is unique and filled with people who not only love what they do but are also very good at it. As we approach the end of another semester, I encourage you to reach out to industry colleagues if you need fresh ideas or assistance. The beauty of this industry and being a part of OACS is we are not alone. We stand strong together!


Tammy Slone

OACS President

Cedarville University Bookstore

Updated: Nov 25, 2019

The shipping room is buzzing with activity as we prepare for incoming freshman in just over two weeks! The industry is also buzzing with changes that have become a part of our daily norm over the past few years. I want to highlight a few of them for you.

The National Association of College Stores made some key change announcements at the annual membership meeting July 24. First, Bob Walton, CEO, has been asked to step down and Ed Schlichenmayer will now fill the position. Ed has been involved with the association for 19 years and has an extensive background in college retail. We are excited to see him take the organization back to the roots of supporting the independent college store industry!

Another significant change is that indiCo will be winding down its general merchandise program and exiting the textbook distribution business as well. A decision is coming in the next few months on the trade book distribution business, so look for details on this in the future. IndiCo will continue to fulfill textbook orders for Fall rush where possible, but will not be selling textbooks for the next rush period. NACS is also moving away from the indiCo program of pursuing contracted management of college stores. Going forward they will operate with the intent of moving stores they are currently contracted with back to independent stores.

In library news, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact presented a webinar that featured OhioLINK speaking about their course materials affordability initiatives. This link will take you to the part of the presentation where they speak about the OhioLINK initiative with Inclusive Access. When you watch this short OhioLINK segment, I think it will highlight the importance of getting in front of this topic on your campus. Unfortunately, the message portrayed to policy makers through OhioLINK is that bookstores are often an obstacle when in fact, most of us are already doing Inclusive Access, OER, and the other type of content delivery mentioned. A better approach is to work together in a cross-team effort with all of the key players at the table. Course materials need to be looked at as a basis for student success and not a battleground for library or bookstore survival. We can accomplish a lot more working together using combined strengths. My interactions with other bookstores indicates that most stores feel this way.

In OACS news, the board has been working on Fall Conference preparations which are coming together nicely! We are celebrating our 50th anniversary as an organization and will be recognizing and honoring some past presidents and a special vendor who has been with OACS from the beginning! The program is packed with presenters from the industry and features sessions on marketing and social media, general merchandise trends, inventory management, panel discussions, store only roundtables, store/vendor roundtables, and a vendor trade show! Register now using this link.

The event will be October 7 & 8 at Ashland University - conveniently located just 1 hour north of Columbus and only a few miles off I-71. The conference sessions start at 10am on Monday and will finish at 2pm on Tuesday. Registration is only $130 for store members and $150 for vendor members and gives you full access to all conference functions. Make hotel reservations at the Hampton Inn of Ashland by calling 419-903-0900. Receive a 15% discount by mentioning you are an Ashland Guest. We do not have a block of rooms reserved so make your reservations early.

Renew your membership when you register for the conference to receive a 25% discount on your membership. Membership benefits include bi-monthly industry updates, free admission to the OACS Spring meeting, access to relevant education, and industry networking opportunities.

Finally, OACS is also looking to fill several board positions for the coming year. Members will receive a link to a nomination ballot soon. Nominate yourself or an industry colleague one of the open offices. Diversity in college stores type and size is crucial to having a representative board so we hope you will seriously consider getting involved. The time commitment is manageable and it is highly rewarding to walk alongside and assist your colleagues as we navigate through change. Open positions include Vice President-Elect, Secretary, Store Trustee, and Vendor Trustee.

We are excited as a board to serve you and look forward to seeing you all at Fall Conference. Again, membership and conference registration is available here.

Privileged to Serve! See you soon!

Tammy Slone, OACS President

Manager of Retail Services

Cedarville University


Contact us
  • Facebook - White Circle

© 2020 Ohio Association of College Stores