Initiatives for Affordability: Rentals, eBooks, and Inclusive Access

By Olivia Butze, PR Associate

Recently, SAGE announced its partnership with The Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK), a statewide academic library consortium. The partnership gives higher ed students access to discounted e-Textbooks, an agreement in which students pay on average $29 per eBook, saving more than 60% per title.

This initiative, just like many of our others, was born from conversations we had with university faculty and administrators. Pam Snow, SAGE’s Senior Business Development Manager of Partner Relations, sees asking questions as crucial to her role as a relationship builder. In taking the time to understand and support university needs, she can improve SAGE’s offerings. Intrigued by this concept, I spoke with Pam in order to learn more about SAGE’s higher ed initiatives.

In your own words, can you explain SAGE’s efforts to promote the affordability of scholarly materials in the university landscape?   

Students are often faced with the challenge of being able to purchase the needed course materials to help them succeed. Two models in particular have emerged to help students offset higher costs: Print rental and Inclusive Access. The model most students are familiar with is print rental. This model allows students to “rent” a print book at a lower cost than purchasing it. The book is then returned at the end of the semester. SAGE currently has print rental partnerships with Chegg and Amazon and is actively looking to expand these partnerships.

Inclusive Access is a newer model that also provides students a less expensive option to purchasing a new print text. Inclusive Access allows students to access their text online the first day of class, a feature that professors love, as many students aren’t able to purchase a printed version for several weeks as they wait to receive their financial aid funding. With Inclusive Access, the student pays for the online course materials at the time they register for the course and SAGE works with the institution to ensure the course materials are made available to the student via an online version.

As a result of these two models, a larger percentage of students are purchasing course materials, which typically leads to students achieving better grades. 

Why is are these efforts important? Whom will they primarily benefit?  

In an average class, 30% of students forego purchasing the required content for their course due to financial hardship. Per a US PIRG Survey78 percent of those students who reported not buying a textbook said they expected to perform worse in that class.” While affordability initiatives like Inclusive Access and print rental programs naturally benefit students, faculty also benefit, as it allows their students to have the content the first day of class. The students are prepared and ready to learn from day one!

You are relatively new to SAGE. What insight from your past careers have you brought to your team?  

Never stop asking questions.  Ask professors, students, administrators, store managers, etc. what their educational goals are and then work with them to provide a solution. And don’t stop there! Continue to ask them how the solution is working and work with them to improve the experience. Being seen as a true partner merely takes a sincere desire to provide the best experience for the faculty and students we serve.

You came into the role with more than 30 years of industry experience. What is some of the best advice you have been given along the way that you still take into consideration every day? Is there anything you could share that may be of use to faculty?   

Great question! One of the best pieces of advice I received at the beginning of my career that remains relevant is the fact that professors don’t often move from one institution to another, so the relationship you begin building today will have a longtime impact. In other words, build rather than burn bridges. As far as advice for faculty is concerned, SAGE College’s tagline “Teaching isn’t easy. Learning never ends. We are here for you” sums up nicely how we all benefit by working together.  

Can you give us any hints as to what may be in SAGE’s future with regards to higher education and affordability?

We continue to work with our institutions and channel partners on new and innovative ways that we can continue to provide students quality content in the manner and price students deserve. As an independent company, we are able to move forward in a thoughtful way that benefits the student and faculty, rather than prioritizing revenue for shareholders.   

You possess an extensive background in higher ed. In what ways does SAGE support student-professor relationships in higher ed institutions? 

The end goal of attending a higher education institute is for students to gain knowledge leading them to a successful life post-college. While SAGE’s reliable content is a key component to this success, the true hero is the professor who is essential in developing their students. SAGE recognizes this and works closely with faculty to ensure they and their students are provided with the materials they need in the classroom to succeed.    

Finally, you are a huge Detroit Tigers fan. How has the team inspired you?   

Whether the Tigers or your local Little League team, winning at baseball requires more than teamwork and talent. To reach the ultimate goal of winning you must take time to create a foundational knowledge of the game, including strengths and weaknesses of your own team and your opponent’s. Even details about the ballpark are important. What is best strategically when faced with the Green Monster at Fenway or a longer outfield at Comerica (Tiger) Stadium?  Despite all of these efforts, winning is never a guarantee, with games having a series of high and low points for each team. I’ve found many parallels as I live my own life.  Our foundational knowledge should always be improving and should reflect the fact that we learn from both our celebrations and disappointments. It’s how we learn and then move forward- both in a baseball game and the game of life- that really matters.

As the PR Associate at SAGE Publishing, Olivia Butze helps manage the creation and dissemination of research news and corporate announcements to the media and other stakeholders. With a background in writing, Olivia takes pride in communicating to others, whether through social media, press releases, or blog posts. When she isn’t busy typing away, you can find her reading, hiking, or baking with a lot of chocolate.

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