Kent State students react to new textbook service

This fall, Kent State opted to expand its use of the Flash Books service for buying textbooks. Students have mixed reviews about the system.

“Flash Books is a program that is part of a nationwide initiative that is referred to as an inclusive access model of textbook affordability,” said Mandy Munro-Stasiuk, the interim senior associate Provost for Academic Affairs.

Kent State negotiates prices and terms with publishing companies to make textbooks more affordable for students. The books are attached to the course as a fee and automatically accessible on blackboard without having to go to the bookstore to purchase a book or access code. Students have seven days to opt out of Flash Books because the bookstore has a seven day return policy.

Some students really appreciated the simplicity of Flash Books and how they didn’t have to maneuver purchasing books through the bookstore. Many students also appreciated the cheaper cost of buying books through Flash Books as opposed to the bookstore. The amount students can save varies depending on the books format.

Gage Koontz, a junior geographic information science major said, “The format of the book, physical or electronic, didn’t matter to me. It was more about cost efficiency. The electronic version is also convenient because it is easier to pull up the textbook anywhere.”

Antoine Williams, a hospitality management major said, “I am fairly new to technology so having the books go straight to my blackboard was very helpful. I think they can make this program great systematically if they bring forth a flashline tutorial of the program because it was confusing for me to figure out at first.”

Munro-Stasiuk said the school plans on revisiting Flash Books terms in the future to better inform students of the service and the opt out dates. Only 2-5% of students have opted out since its inception and some students didn’t appreciate everything it had to offer. 

Brett Lenzi, a senior marketing major, said, “I opted out because I didn’t want to be automatically charged for a textbook I may not even use. I have had textbooks cost $200 when I was able to find it online for $4. Even with Flash Books’ lower prices you can find books for even cheaper online.”

The idea is to get the material directly into the students’ hands right off the bat in order to help them succeed in the course. 

“We know that students pay tuition first, room and board second, and books are the last thing that they pay for, and many students will go without the books,” Munro-Stasiuk said. “Typically if you don’t have the course materials the success rates for those individuals go down significantly.”

Contact Aidan Coyne at [email protected].