Sidewalk technology helps college bookstores recapture textbook market

Stefanie Botelho's picture
Friday, May 9, 2014

Sidewalk, formerly known as CampusBookRentals, the company that helped pioneer online textbook rentals, has created a line of back-end technology and services that help campus bookstores regain their dominance of the college textbook market.

Over the past decade, brick and mortar on-campus bookstores have surrendered an estimated fifty percent of the textbook market to online retailers, jeopardizing the existence of one of the centerpieces of the college experience.

Sidewalk was founded in 2007 as CampusBookRentals by Alan Martin, a college student who was frustrated with the rising cost of textbooks. Now, the company is taking aim at helping bookstores recapture their competitive edge by creating technology that allows bookstores to acquire inventory at a lower cost and in turn lower their prices to students. These technologies include a peer-to-peer textbook selling and sourcing platform that directly connects college stores across the country and the creation of a cloud-based retail and advanced analytics platform. In addition, Sidewalk has created a white-label kiosk service to allow students to find and rent books right inside the bookstore.

The initiative is part of a significant expansion for the company, which rebranded as Sidewalk earlier this year, making CampusBookRentals the online rental division of the broader Sidewalk.

“Sidewalk’s products will provide bookstores with advanced tools in an increasingly competitive marketplace and will provide continuous savings to their student customers,” said Alan Martin Sidewalk’s Founder and CEO. “We believe in the value and potential of college bookstores, and our evolution as a company reflects that belief. Our technologies ultimately lower prices for the student, and increase market share.”

Over the past three years, Sidewalk (under the name CampusBookRentals) has solidified itself as the industry’s preeminent college bookstore partner, laying the groundwork to leverage existing distribution channels to provide more value to partners and students alike and bring customers back to campus bookstores.

Sidewalk is currently partnered with more than 250 bookstores nationwide. The core technology offerings for brick-and-mortar stores include:

PRO: A complete point-of-sale solution. From general merchandise and textbook management to back-office management and business analytics, Pro integrates seamlessly into a bookstore’s existing infrastructure and is designed to evolve with a store’s future needs.

MARKETPLACE: A peer-to-peer textbook selling and sourcing platform that connects college stores across the country directly to each other, allowing for a much more efficient distribution of textbooks without the middleman. Direct sourcing increases efficiency, bringing higher margins to bookstores and in turn, passes significant savings along to students.

RENT: Available for both in-store and online implementation, Rent is private-labeled and provides bookstores the technology they need to establish a successful rental program. Rent covers most textbook titles, making the store dramatically more competitive.

PROMOTE: Promote directs customers away from online competition and into the bookstore by utilizing geolocation technology embedded in online price comparison websites. For the first time, local store pricing is revealed alongside online pricing, allowing students within the geographical vicinity of their bookstore to make the best possible price and convenience decision when it comes to buying books.

Sidewalk will remain under the same leadership and management team as CampusBookRentals. Additionally, the CampusBookRentals website will remain as the company’s consumer-facing entity and will continue to provide price-conscious students with a flexible, convenient and economical alternative to buying textbooks.

ABOUT SIDEWALK

Sidewalk is a leading provider of technologically-advanced rental solutions to the college bookstore market and has solidified itself as the industry’s preeminent bookstore partner. The company’s mission is to deliver significant value to students through meaningful partnerships within the college retail industry, bringing permanent positive change in the process. Founded in 2007 by CEO Alan Martin under the name CampusBookRentals, the company quickly grew into a leading independent provider of textbook rentals, providing a flexible, convenient and economical alternative to buying textbooks for price-conscious students. Today, over 250 bookstores (representing over two million students) nationwide have benefited from Sidewalk’s in-store technologies and core capabilities including Pro, Marketplace, Rent and Promote. For more information, please visit www.sidewalkpro.com.

About CampusBookRentals

CampusBookRentals is a leading independent provider of textbook rentals, providing a flexible, convenient and economical alternative to buying textbooks for price-conscious students. Named by Forbes as one of "America's Most Promising Companies," and as the fastest growing education company in the nation by Inc. Magazine in 2012, CampusBookRentals is a preeminent destination for textbook rentals. Founded in August 2007, Campus Book Rentals serves customers at nearly 6,000 colleges nationwide. For more information, visit: www.campusbookrentals.com.