John Squires

Chief Executive Officer
John Squires

John Squires was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Akadémos, Inc. on April 13th, 2011. John was previously the founder of Next Issue Media, the digital publishing consortium joined by Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc. Next Issue Media brought these companies together to develop publishing solutions for tablet reading devices. Prior to Next Issue Media, Squires served as Executive Vice President at Time Inc., where he was responsible for leading digital operations and overseeing Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Money and Golf magazines. John holds a BA degree from the University of Washington.

John's Posts

Supercharge Student Engagement Through Mobile Platforms

Akademos is pleased to announce the first in a monthly series of webinars. For our September webinar, we’re partnering with Top Hat to share practical tips on how to leverage current mobile platform trends to improve instruction and student shopping services. We hope you can join us!

Live Webinar: Wednesday, September 24 at 1:00 pm EDT

In this webinar, see how to:

  • Engage students with innovative mobile platforms
  • Meet expectations of the BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) generation
  • Explore trends in the changing textbook and bookstore services marketplace
  • Deliver a superior mobile shopping experience for students

Featured speakers: 

John Squires, CEO, Akademos

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Silagadze, CEO, Top Hat

Naseem Saloojee,
VP of Business Development, Top Hat

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In Case You Missed It: NACUBO Session Wrap-Up

On Tuesday, we lead a NACUBO discussion with an audience of college CFOs regarding the future of online college bookstores.

Jaye Lynn Bergers, Director of Bookstores and Merchandising Operations at Davenport University, joined us to share her experience with implementing a “marketplace model” to deliver cost savings and a seamless online shopping experience for students.

In just five months after launching an online bookstore, Davenport students have saved close to $1,000,000 on textbooks and course materials. How did they achieve this success?

What are some steps your school can take to go beyond the brick and mortar bookstore?

View the step by step guide from our NACUBO presentation:

Key Considerations for Implementing an Online Bookstore

 

 

 

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Coming Soon to NACUBO: How to Implement a Bookstore ‘Marketplace’ Model

The Akademos team is on the road again. This time, we’re headed to present a breakout session and exhibit at  NACUBO 2014 in Seattle. Be sure to stop by booth #1100 or set up a custom demo.

We hope you can join us for our presentation Implementing a Bookstore ‘Marketplace’ Model on Tuesday, July 22 at 9:45 AM.

Session Overview: 

We have all witnessed how third-party retail web sites have changed the way students shop for textbooks. Marketplaces, made popular by e-commerce sites such as Amazon, connect third-party sellers with consumers, usually at a lower cost to the consumer. Institutions that can implement this model, including processing financial aid payments, can gain a competitive edge in the textbook business without passing increasing costs on to their students.

In this session, you will learn practical steps to leverage the marketplace shopping trend, and ultimately, how to drive traffic back to your school-sanctioned bookstore. Discover how two institutions applied the ‘marketplace’ model to their bookstores with the goals of improving student satisfaction and recapturing lost consumers.

Featured Speakers:

 Joining us will be representatives from two of our partner schools: JayeLynn Bergers, Director of  Bookstores and Merchandising Operations at Davenport University and Labouré College’s CFO Mark Virello.

Mark your Calendar!

Registered for NACUBO?  Don’t forget to add this session to your virtual agenda. See you in Seattle!

 

 

 

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Laboure College’s use of Akademos Virtual Bookstore Featured in Business Officer Magazine

A recently published article in the May issue of Business Officer Magazine (“Livening Up the Shelves,” by Apryl Motley) profiles three institutions who have found innovative content delivery methods— online and on campus— to stock their bookstore shelves:

  • Labouré College, Massachusetts: Six years ago, they partnered with Akademos and became “early adopters” of the online bookstore.  Today, they have managed to buck the textbook inflation trend. Labouré CFO Mark Virello reports average book costs have remained flat—a big win for students.
  • Broward College, Florida:  Across its six bookstores, they have adopted several alternative low-cost textbook options including rentals, eBooks, and customized content. George G. Masforroll, associate vice president for auxiliary services, believes superior customer service is the key to staying competitive with outside sellers.
  • University of Colorado, Boulder: In conjunction with the disability services office, CU-Boulder has implemented a new tool to meet the growing demand for textbooks and course materials in alternative formats.

Similar to what we’ve seen in our own surveys, the article confirms that price is top of mind for many students shopping for course materials. Our partner schools can attest to two trends mentioned here: the price of education is on the rise and students are becoming savvier shoppers. Many students today are leaving the bookstore to shop for cheaper textbook alternatives, if they are looking to purchase or rent their course materials at all.  In order to keep up, institutions nationwide must find a way to compete in the market.

For the full article, click here.

To learn more about the Labouré College virtual bookstore, visit the Akademos Partner Schools page.

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Davenport students cut shopping time and save $550,000 in first term

Last year Davenport University came to us with a problem–their students were complaining about high textbook costs. Davenport had made the transition to an online bookstore for its 12 campuses in 2010, but the growth of online buying options was putting continual pressure on the school to find a better way to lower the cost of course materials in order to satisfy their students.

Akademos worked with Davenport to develop a new shopping experience for students, integrating course information and financial aid to give Davenport students a unique, personalized store. The new store dramatically reduced student shopping time and the integrated marketplace provided highly competitive pricing for students. Store utilization and overall student satisfaction have both improved since the launch of the new DU Online Bookstore.

 

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Saint Leo University has mastered textbook affordablity

President Dr. Arthur F. Kirk, Jr. provides some excellent tips in this article on how the university has made its textbooks more affordable.  Check out his tips on how they accomplished this here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-arthur-f-kirk-jr/textbooks-costs-continue-_b_4612606.html.  This is exactly the kind of advice we offered in our recent survey of Presidents, Provosts and CAOs.  For the complete report see:  http://www.akademos.com/blog/2013/12/learn-how-to-lower-textbook-costs-while-increasing-student-and-faculty-satisfaction-at-your-school/.

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Learn how to lower textbook costs while increasing student and faculty satisfaction at your school

We are pleased to announce that our college President, Provost, and CAO survey on textbook trends is now complete!

What did we find? Schools with textbook affordability programs report lower textbook costs, as well as higher student and faculty satisfaction with textbook costs.

The bad news? Only 16% of schools surveyed reported having a formal textbook affordability program.

The good news? Our report includes some simple tips for starting and/or optimizing a textbook affordability program at your school.

Below are some additional key findings:

  • 93% of respondents agree that textbook costs impact retention and persistence/completion.
  • The majority of faculty and students are dissatisfied with textbook prices.
  • Obstacles to reducing textbook costs included the perception that publisher prices are increasing, that no one person or department is accountable, and that faculty don’t consider price in selecting appropriate texts.

As you may recall, in our CFO Survey on Textbook Delivery and Bookstore Services, 89% of respondents confirmed that students were leaving the campus-based bookstore to shop elsewhere.  High cost is the leading factor that’s driving students away.

A big thank you to our 500 participants for their time and feedback- we couldn’t have done it without you. If you were unable to participate in our last survey – email us! We’d love to hear your opinion on textbook delivery and the future of bookstore services.

You can download the executive summary white paper from our Resources page.

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Congratulations to Board Member Eric Fingerhut

 

Akademos board director Eric Fingerhut was just named the President of Jewish student organization Hillel. Congratulations to Eric and we support him in his endeavors to continue supporting student learning.

About Eric

Eric D. Fingerhut, a nationally recognized leader in education and economic development policy, was until recently the Vice President for Education and STEM Learning at the Battelle Memorial Institute, the largest non-profit research and development organization in the world. He currently serves on the Board of Directors and Advisors of Akademos,the educational online bookstore provider. Fingerhut previously served as the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, as an Ohio State Senator and as a member of the United States House of Representatives.  Chancellor Fingerhut earned a Bachelor of Science degree with highest honors from Northwestern University in 1981 and received a law degree from the Stanford University School of Law in 1984.

 

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Should College Bookstores Sell Books?

You may have seen the recent post on the Akademos blog summarizing outcomes from our survey of college and university CFOs about textbook trends and bookstore services practices. Many of our findings were not a surprise—such as the idea that students are leaving the college bookstore to shop at third-party retailers because of perceived better pricing. Others were a bit confounding—like the desire to offer students lower-cost textbooks, while simultaneously hesitating to sell textbooks from anywhere but brick-and-mortar college bookstores.

As college administrators search for the right direction regarding bookstore operations, I think lessons from changes in the trade bookstore business are worth considering in this discussion of how college bookstores may evolve. Today’s trade book consumer is fiercely value-conscious, and the brick-and-mortar bookstore business has been revolutionized by the selection, price, and speed of delivery offered by online retailers. Local bookstores that have survived have done so by offering unique services and products not readily available from online sellers.

Are college students any less concerned about value? A recent article published by The Chronicle of Higher Education (“Students Get Savvier About Textbook Buying“) shows that students are also diligent bargain-hunters. We see little evidence that college bookstores are adapting quickly to this challenge of providing superior value to their students. In fact, the trends we see from examining RFPs and college bookstore contracts suggest the opposite.

Bookstore contracts are too frequently awarded to service providers who promise double-digit commissions to schools, or multi-million dollar capital commitments to rebuild student centers or other campus facilities. Yet aren’t students the ones really paying for these high-cost contract commitments? And what of the corresponding business practices resulting from these agreements that conflict with the mission of higher education?

Here are a few consequences that give us concern:

  • Financial aid dollars are tied to use at the college bookstore, so students face the dilemma of using out-of-pocket funds to purchase low-cost textbooks outside the college bookstore, or running up their already high debt burden by overpaying for their course materials in their college bookstore.
  • Custom textbooks that offer little incremental value beyond the standard editions are developed in a coordinated effort between publishers, faculty, and bookstore operators. These books are often priced extremely high, and their exclusive availability in the college bookstores thwarts students from renting or purchasing used editions of these textbooks elsewhere.

We think it’s time to focus on how this cycle impacts student outcomes and drives up the cost of education, particularly with regard to attrition. It is estimated that “as many as one in three [students] frequently opt not to purchase required academic materials due to cost” (National Survey of Student Engagement, 2012). We know that for many community college students, the cost of learning materials can be as much as the cost of tuition. How is this cycle burdening schools with unintended costs from poorly prepared and under-performing students who don’t persist to completion?

It is only a matter of time before colleges must actively consider more efficient ways of meeting their students’ needs through alternative textbook and course material delivery platforms. If it is possible to provide complete availability of course materials, a robust used and rental marketplace, and access to free teaching materials like Open Educational Resources, then why are college administrators not more engaged in exploring alternatives to stocking textbooks in their physical stores?

In the end, we see the conversation about textbook costs as moving into a broader circle, involving the college CFO, provost, and president. College presidents have not been fully engaged in considering how schools meet this critical student need more efficiently. But since they are also under enormous pressure to cut costs and improve educational outcomes, the day when college presidents turn their attention to this key piece of student performance is surely close at hand.

We will soon share a comparable survey of college presidents and provosts to explore how their impressions of the issues raised here compare to those who, understandably, are primarily focused on the financial interests of their schools.

To learn more, sign up for our textbook delivery and bookstore services alerts.

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