Bay Tree Bookstore undergoing refresh

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The new campus store will continue to offer all of its existing products including test supplies, office supplies, computers and technology, along with the ever popular UCSC apparel and gift items. (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

The Bay Tree Bookstore is undergoing a comprehensive refresh in order to better meet the changing needs of students and faculty.

The UC Santa Cruz community can expect to see a number of changes at the Bay Tree Bookstore over the coming months, including a new name and a broader embrace of e-commerce. A new name for the campus store has yet to be selected.

These changes, scheduled to be rolled out by fall 2021, are driven, in part, by the ever-increasing preference among students and faculty for highly portable digital textbooks, rental textbooks, and other course materials.

For years, textbooks had been the bookstore’s focus. The upward trend for using digital formats has been mirrored by a steep downward trend in purchases of course materials from the store.

“With these changes, it is well-past time for the Bay Tree Bookstore to thoroughly incorporate an e-commerce business model so that it can provide our students, faculty, and staff with top-of-the-line tools and services in support of academic success,” said Sue Matthews, associate vice chancellor for Colleges, Housing, and Educational Services.

The new campus store will continue to offer all of its existing products including test supplies, office supplies, computers and technology, along with the ever popular UCSC apparel and gift items. Without the need to display and store quantities of hardcopy books, the store is also making plans to reduce its on-campus footprint.

Shifting to an e-commerce business model for course materials requires a technological infrastructure and technical expertise not currently available on our campus. To overcome these hurdles, the store will work with a partner with proven expertise and infrastructure to support the online shopping experience, Matthews said. UC Santa Cruz staff will continue to work in the store with customers.

There are many advantages in enhancing the store’s digital experience, particularly lower costs for academic materials. It also allows the campus to contemplate the incorporation of mechanisms that can further drive down costs and increase accessibility to course materials.

Inclusive access is a model that was pioneered by UC Davis, and has since been adopted by many colleges and universities nationwide. In this model, all course materials selected by the instructor are made immediately available to students upon enrolling in that course. This means that every single enrolled student is assured access to those materials before their first day of class and at a lower cost than would otherwise be possible.

The campus will select an online preferred partner, after gathering input from campus stakeholders and thoroughly reviewing its options.

Those who appreciate the experience of reading a physical book can rest assured that all available hard copy forms of course materials–new, used, and rental–will still be available from the preferred partner. Additionally, faculty and students who prefer to shop elsewhere will always have the flexibility to do so.

The store will soon be seeking engagement with stakeholders and other representatives from cross-sections of the campus as these changes are further developed and implemented.

UC Santa Cruz is also refreshing the express store, which will be managed by the campus dining team to allow the campus store to focus on its core operations. The express store will reopen in fall 2021.

Note: this story was updated at 8:45 a.m. on Feb. 24, 2021 to provide more clarity about the name change.