Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Bookstore contract raises new debate

The new proposal is set to be presented on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at the Board of Trustees meeting. Photo credit: Armando Jacobo

The regurgitated stereotype of the overpriced textbooks offered at the Cerritos College Bookstore has been prominent throughout campus.

It’s become a joke of sorts among professors that teach at Cerritos College to avoid purchasing textbooks at their local bookstore and are referred to other resources.

History Professor Walter Fernandez acknowledges the trend among students.

“The students know the books are going to be expensive at the bookstore, they know there are other sources where they can buy the books cheaper. They also know they can buy used books cheaper, too, online in some cases or across the street (Textbooks Inc.). I think it’s convenient,” Fernandez said.

Effective on Jan. 31, the operating agreement with Follett Higher Education Group Inc. for continued management and operation of the Cerritos College Bookstore is set to expire.

In the interim, Cerritos College and Follett will continue operations under the existing contract until a new one can be agreed upon in the next Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 4.

Since September 2014, District administration led by Vice-President of Business Services David El Fattal, has negotiated terms on a new contract with Follett.

A first proposal of the second amendment was brought up in the first Board of Trustees on Jan. 21.

Faculty members and students voiced their opinions about the high costs of textbooks.

Despite the increased funds, faculty members and students also had issues with the semantics of the Follett contract specifically the distinction between “margin” and “mark-up”

Economic Professor Solomon Namala explained the difference in the terminology.

“In the (business) industry thats the standard they (it) always uses the term margin, not ‘mark-up.’ I don’t know why it does that, the industry practice, they (it) always talk(s) about margin: maybe because if they (it) say(s) ‘mark-up’, it looks much bigger.”

Although Follett consistently uses term “mark-up” to describe the raise in the prices disguising the actual margin, allowing textbooks being sold at the Cerritos College Bookstore to exceed its limit of a 25 percent margin.

“Books are being sold higher than the (set) margin, that’s the problem,” Namala said. “That’s the main issue I see with it also; think the bookstore should make a commitment to make one or two (textbooks) on reserve automatically for every textbook that is adopted.

“We talk about student success and all of that, well how are we going to get student success if students cannot get affordable textbooks,” Namala said.

Head negotiator David El Fattal believes no violation has been done by Follett stating, “I’m not sure about the perception of violation. I’m working with the faculty members whether that’s accurate or not. There’s a possibility that there have been some books.

I don’t know. We’re looking into that.

The second proposal is pending approval from the Board of Trustees but key points included in the new second amendment of the Follett contract are as follows:

– Under the new bookstore proposal, Cerritos College and relatedly, the ASCC wil recieve an annual increase in commission revenues of approximately $180,000

– The commission on sales is 15 percent on sales under $3 million and 16 percent on sales above $3 million.

– The commission guarantee increased from $350,000 to $400,000 and an allocation of $30,000 toward the Cerritos College Library and $50,000, to the Facilities Department.

– Increased annual Textbook scholarships of $2,500, totaling to $5,000 plus an additional discount of 25 percent on each textbook purchased.

– A one-time commission payment of $112,000 for 2014 fall rush sales.

– Potential store improvements, which include the installation of facilitates and/or equipment for the purpose of selling coffee or other food or drink products.

– An improved clause giving Cerritos CCD exclusive rights to sell athletic apparel or gear containing Cerritos colors and/or logos.

It also includes a detailed clause that defines gross margin and includes an example explaining the term.

– The retail industry standard calculation used to measure profitability. The calculation uses, identifies or determines three variables: sales price, purchase cost and profit margin.

The pending proposal is set to last five years, from February 1, 2015 through January 31, 2020.

Dean of Student Services Dr. Gilbert Contreras discounted the issue of semantics, believing the real issue lies in cooperation with one another.

“People are getting caught up on semantics and I think the correct question to answer is ‘are students getting what is guaranteed in the contract?’ I don’t care if you call it margin, mark-up, whatever you want to call it,” explained Contreras.

“We need to work on our end as a campus that students are getting the lowest possible price for those textbooks. I don’t want to go down the path of defining what is margin what is mark-up,” continues Contreras. “I think we need to work together. We need to hold Follett accountable for that to see how are they explaining those numbers.”

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About the Contributor
Armando Jacobo, Online Editor
Spring 2015 My name is Armando Jacobo. I’ve been a part of Talon Marks for three straight semesters now and I enjoy every aspect of the hectic lifestyle that entails it. This is my first semester as online editor. I’m also a journalism major but I’m not entirely set what I want to do with it though. Maybe enter the sports realm or music industry…or just nothing.
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Bookstore contract raises new debate