Amazon goes IRL with campus pick-up points

Of all the threats Amazon has posed to brick and mortar bookshops to date, real-world competition – that is, a branch of Amazon that book buyers can actually walk into – has been fairly low on the radar. Whilst an Amazon shop that allows customers to browse its lovingly-curated shelves physically still seems improbable, there is nevertheless bound to be a lot of nervous collar tugging in bookshops around the world at the news that the übercorporation is manifesting itself in an offline form on the campus of Indiana’s Purdue University as of next year.

Following a successful pilot project with the University of California, Davis for the 2013-14 academic year, Amazon this week launched a co-branded online store for students at Purdue in conjunction with the university, which offers students, staff, faculty and alumni discounts on new and used textbooks and other college-related material. All eligible sales made through the store return a share of profits to the university. Other perks of the partnership for students include free one-day shipping on textbooks to the campus area, free two-day shipping for six months followed by 50% off Amazon Prime membership for those who join Amazon Student, and yes, as of early 2015 – in a world first – a staffed location on campus for pick-ups and drop-offs: Amazon IRL.

Purdue president Mitch Daniels views the partnership as part of an ongoing project to reduce costs for his students, following two years in a row of reducing the price of room and board by 5% and a three year freeze in tuition fees: ‘This relationship is another step in Purdue’s efforts to make a college education more affordable for our students. With the pressure on college campuses to reduce costs, this new way of doing business has the potential to change the book-buying landscape for students and their families.’

Paul Ryder, Amazon’s vice president of media and student programs, says of the campus collection points: ‘They will offer a secure and convenient option for receiving packages from Amazon, as well as a hassle-free way to return textbook rentals and other orders from Amazon. We’ll also offer our Amazon Student members even faster shipping on hundreds of thousands of products when picked up from one of our locations on campus.’

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