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College Stores Increase Digital Delivery Capabilities

NACS Media Solutions to develop content platform with Canadian group

OBERLIN, Ohio, Sept. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- College stores will expand their support of digital academic content under a new joint development agreement between NACS Media Solutions LLC (NMS) and the Canadian Campus Retail Associates Inc. (CCRA).

"The agreement permits co-development and deployment of a common digital content platform (DCP) for electronic books and print-on-demand content," said Ed Schlichenmayer, NMS President and Chief Operating Officer. "Our goal it to provide college stores in North America with access to a best of class e-book delivery platform that is scalable to store volumes, can integrate with other store systems, and is wholly-owned by college stores."

The DCP will include three levels of service to college stores: a generic, affiliate-member solution; a customized, store-branded site; and a more advanced package that can be fully integrated with existing store systems. In the near future, web services and tools will be available to assist in the conversion of course packs, creation of digital course materials, and the review and adoption of faculty-authored, university press, and other publisher content.

The DCP content repository -- the warehouse where data is stored and the technology that enables a user to access it -- presently contains a collection of digital study versions, which are books that either have been digitized with permission from the publishers or are in the public domain and can be given free or sold at very low cost. They are mapped, or linked through search mechanisms, to thousands of conventional titles currently used at most North American universities and colleges.

These study versions have been produced in the EPUB format, enabling them to reflow copy for viewing on most mobile reading devices, such as the Sony Reader. The DCP is powered by Adobe, supports both rights-controlled (DRM) and rights-free (DRM Free) content in EPUB or PDF formats, and is both Mac and PC compatible. All well-known delivery models, such as free distribution, for-fee sales, term rental, and subscriptions are accommodated by the DCP with royalty and transaction reconciliation.

The content management and delivery platform was originally developed by the 100-year-old student-owned bookstore at Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and further refined at the 22 college stores in Canada that comprise the CCRA. These stores will serve as the initial test market for the platform during the 2009 fall academic term. Based upon their results and feedback NMS will work in collaboration with CCRA on further enhancements, as well as a more broad-based pilot in the U.S. involving members of the Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA) that could begin as early as the spring term beginning January 2010

Chris Tabor, director of Queen's University Bookstore and president of CCRA, explained his group's participation as a reaction to the need for "a capable and credible digital solution that is workable for stores of all sizes and technical sophistication in order to help them remain relevant in the rapidly changing industry.

"We are challenged by the digitization of our business processes at the same time our primary product is digitized."

Stacy Waymire, ICBA Executive Director, noted that "ICBA is excited to have played a part in the development and implementation of the digital content platform, and to share in this dynamic new level of collaboration of organizations prepared to think and act in new ways. ICBA has come to recognize CCRA as the leading industry organization in terms of web-based solutions for college stores. This was matched by NMS's initiative, commitment, and determination to advance digital solutions for the industry. We are on the threshold of a new era in collegiate retailing."

"Select ICBA members have made significant contributions to many of the technical features and business principles that are incorporated into the platform to enable a large-scale deployment in the U.S.," said Schlichenmayer. "The support of ICBA is an integral and valued piece of what will make the NMS-CCRA relationship successful. The collective contributions of all three organizations will accelerate the industry's ability to demonstrate the capability and credibility of college stores as a vital channel for the delivery of digital course materials."

About NMS

NACS Media Solutions LLC (NMS) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National Association of College Stores (NACS), headquartered in Oberlin, Ohio, USA. Founded in 2008, NMS and its network of partners develops and supports technology and content solutions that enable collegiate retailers to become an effective and vibrant channel for the delivery of digitally-enhanced products and services, helping to support faculty choice and redefining the learning experiences of college students. Contact Ed Schlichenmayer, president and chief operating officer; 800-622-7498; e-mail: eschlic[email protected] or Mark Nelson, Ph.D., vice president, strategy and development; 518-445-6344; e-mail: [email protected].

About CCRA

Canadian Campus Retail Associates Inc. (CCRA) is a private Canadian corporation jointly owned by 22 Canadian college stores. Created in 1998, CCRA stores share in the design, development and deployment of technologies and applications relevant in the college store and academic publishing markets. Contact: Chris Tabor, president; 613-533-6000 ext. 74993; e-mail: [email protected].

About ICBA

The Independent College Bookstore Association (ICBA) is a rapidly growing retail cooperative of independent and institutional college bookstores that is a premier organization in the bookstore industry. This nonprofit mutual benefit corporation is owned by its member stores, which are located throughout the U.S. and Canada. Its mission is to provide the programs and services that will establish the institutional store model as the preferred management solution for higher education. Contact: Stacy Waymire, executive director; 541-488-2591; e-mail: [email protected].

SOURCE National Association of College Stores

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