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Verba Adds Tool for "All-Inclusive" Textbooks

A company that provides services to campus bookstores has updated its platform with a new offering. Verba pegs itself as a service for tackling textbook affordability through multiple applications that help faculty select materials and help bookstores oversee their buyback and bulk purchasing operations.

Verba Connect, the newest addition to Verba's software portfolio, gives bookstore managers administrative tools for running all-inclusive textbook programs. The idea behind Connect is to encourage students to purchase the course materials they need from the first day of class. The company calls this service "Inclusive Access"; however, it's also known as a "course fee model" or "direct access digital." Students acquire their textbooks up front, and then the institution charges students' accounts for the materials after the course add/drop deadline has passed. To adhere to U.S. Department of Education rules, students can also opt out of the program through the software.

Connect works with Verba Collect, which helps with the chore of gathering information from faculty members on the materials they wish to make available for their upcoming courses. The program presents a lists of materials used in previous sections that the instructor can designate again; offers a search to identify new books, along with pricing variations; and even accommodates courses that use open educational resources.

One institutional customer that is using the Verba platform is the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. According to David Kent, director of the VolShop (University of Tennessee's official campus store), Verba Connect "has single-handedly empowered us to build a large-scale Inclusive Access program, featuring low-cost digital course materials that improve learning, increase accessibility and meet the needs of today's students."

At the University of Arizona, bookstore director Debby Shively is impressed by the savings experienced by students. "Inclusive Access reduces textbook prices by the largest amount since the introduction of the used book," she said in a prepared statement. The new Verba service "not only eliminates management pain points for our staff, but more importantly, ensures no student will fall behind because of textbook costs." According to Shively, 1,700 students in the university's Management Information Systems program saved $100,000 in just a single course on the prices they paid for their materials.

As is true with each of Verba's services, Connect is priced from $100 to $700 monthly, based on the number of full-time equivalent students. For more information, visit the Verba site.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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