“Would you like fries with that?”: Textbook Brokers starts suggestive selling textbooks

This fall, Textbook Brokers on Farris Avenue began adding their own recommendations to textbook lists from their partnered schools, including Central Baptist College.

Elizabeth Gomez, chair of the natural and health sciences division, found this at the beginning of the semester.

“I went in and checked my own classes on the Textbook Brokers link, and I noticed for one of my classes they had put up there two extra items that I had said nothing about, didn’t even know about,” said Gomez.

Textbook Brokers adds recommendations after required materials for courses.
Submitted photo

A couple of days after finding this on the Textbook Brokers website, Gomez was approached by a student who told her that they had bought everything, including Textbook Brokers recommendations. Gomez told the student to take the extra materials back to Textbook Brokers because they weren’t necessary for the class.

“I would recommend for students [not to] buy anything that’s not listed in the syllabus,” said Gomez.

Gomez also informed Gary McAllister, vice president of academic affairs, about the issue. McAllister then spoke to Ryan Johnson, vice president of enrollment management, who contacted Textbook Brokers about the issue.

According to Textbook Brokers, they had surveyed students at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), who said they found the additional study tools beneficial. Because of this, Textbook Brokers began adding their recommendations.

“[Textbook Brokers] said that they offer full refunds to students who buy the suggested additional materials if they find that they don’t want them or need them,” said Johnson. “This is a strategy that they have implemented with all of their partner schools, like UCA. They said it’s like when fast food restaurants ask after your order, ‘Would you like fries with that?’ It was never meant to be deceitful.”

Textbook Brokers also offered to remove their recommendations from CBC courses if the faculty would like them to. After a unanimous vote among the academic leadership team, CBC has contacted Textbook Brokers asking them to remove their suggestive selling strategy from all CBC courses, and Textbook Brokers has agreed to do so right away.

Photo illustration by Jessica Sawyer

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