Blackboard Introduces Plans for New Online Bookstore

Blackboard Inc. today announced plans to introduce an online bookstore in an effort to simplify the process for students to purchase assigned course materials. The company is kicking off the initiative with limited trials this spring with select postsecondary institutions and planning on a full launch this summer.

While details for the bookstore are still being finalized, Blackboard seeks to create an easier, more personalized experience for students purchasing course materials, including new, used and rental textbooks, e-textbooks, digital content and more. Plans call for the store to be accessed directly within the learning management system (LMS) and for students to see instructor-assigned materials that correspond with each of their individual courses. These materials would pre-populate in a shopping cart for streamlined purchase or rental.

“An online bookstore within the LMS is the latest step in our evolution of creating a comprehensive learning experience that fully meets the expectations of today’s learners,” said Jay Bhatt, CEO of Blackboard. “The traditional process for students to buy course materials is not an easy one. We are excited to provide a new content distribution concept that offers a simple, easy and highly personalized experience to the student.”

This spring nearly a dozen higher education institutions will offer the Blackboard online store to their students, including Central Texas College.

“We are excited by the opportunities that will be afforded to our students and faculty through Blackboard’s online bookstore,” said Dr. Thomas Klincar, chancellor at Central Texas College. “It promises to further enhance the online learning experience. By bringing a rich complement of learning content and faculty resources into our existing LMS, we will be better able to serve the diverse needs of our students and help them succeed.”

In addition to selling books, content and other materials, Blackboard also plans to help streamline the course creation and content assignment process for instructors, who use the bookstore to find and assign both commercial and open materials.

“At Wiley, we are focused on helping students perform better by integrating our content, media and assessments directly into the teaching and learning process,” said Joe Heider, senior vice president of Global Education at John Wiley & Sons. “This exciting new development by Blackboard will certainly support our efforts. It is helping create a stronger connection between content accessibility and personalized education, which, in turn, will help improve student outcomes.”

The online bookstore will be made possible through a strategic partnership with MBS Direct, the leading provider of online bookstores. MBS Direct currently works with nearly 950 higher education and K-12 institutions across the country giving them access to over 10 million pieces of content. MBS provides students with an elegant, simple, e-commerce model containing content that is competitively priced and often has a guaranteed buyback price, lowering the total cost of ownership.

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About Blackboard Inc.
Blackboard Inc. is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard’s solutions allow thousands of higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

About MBS Direct
MBS Direct, LLC is the industry leader in providing virtual bookstores with comprehensive print and digital inventories of required course materials. Founded in 1992, MBS Direct partners with nearly 950 educational institutions, for innovative bookstore services. During the last 12 months, MBS Direct serviced nearly 1 million students, processed over 1.8 million orders, and shipped over 5 million items in partnership with client institutions.