At UC Davis, Amazon Demonstrates A Novel Way To Bypass College Bookstores

Why should college students waste their precious party days standing in line, when they can order Ramen from Amazon Prime? The University of California at Davis recently inked a deal with Amazon to offer student essentials, from Calculus 101 textbooks to mac and cheese, on a new university bookstore website that gives 2% of sales back to the school.

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According to the school’s university paper, the Aggie, UC Davis was the first such partnership Amazon announced. The program is now officially a go this week, and UC Davis is giving Amazon the power to blanket the campus with promotion. There’s even an Amazon student ambassador

“During finals week of Fall Quarter, we had several ambassadors all over campus handing out free pizza and other goodies to fuel the students while they study,” said fourth-year political science major, Ting Jung Lee said who is now acting as Amazon’s rep.

The discounted Amazon Prime membership also seems to making the rounds on student boards:

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Students are awash with discretionary spending, which they normally spend in shops around the campus. Amazon sells most of these items and more, from dorm decorations to official t-shirts. So, it makes sense that the University wants to take a cut that they never took before with the sourranding shops.

I’ve witnessed stunts like these work in the past. Back in my college days, I used to see college co-eds in short shorts handing out Red Bull at streaking events and during finals. For brands, college students are a demographic with delightfully transparent desires and well-known spending patterns.

Amazon is aware of its Walmart/Godzilla reputation among struggling businesses. It attempted to partner with indie bookstores to sell its Kindle reading tablet, which got a mixed reception. College bookstores don’t have the same heartstrings to pluck, so it makes sense for them to partner rather than fight.

With enough momentum from the UC Davis experiment, Amazon won’t just partner with bookstores, it will be the bookstore.