Academics, Affordability, Campus wide, Financial Aid

CSU announces new bookstore partnership

By Jenna Johnson | May 20, 2020

Charleston Southern University is pleased to announce a new partnership with Tree of Life Bookstores with a goal to enhance student readiness and success. The partnership will provide CSU students with more affordable course material solutions, now conveniently included in tuition and fees beginning this fall.* 

As part of a planned first phase to the student center renovation project, students can expect to see a new and improved bookstore when they return to campus in the fall. Tree of Life will also offer their innovative Textbook Butler service to students, which provides students the option to receive all textbooks and materials delivered directly to their door before classes begin – either at their campus residence or other desired address.  

“This winning partnership allows us to provide extra-mile service to our Bucs,” said Luke Blackmon, vice president for business affairs. “Going the extra mile is how we exemplify and mirror the mind of Christ.” Extra-mile service is the first of four E.P.I.C. values in the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. Other values include passion for student success, innovation across the institution, and Christian community. View the full strategic plan here

Darren Campbell, CEO and founder of Tree of Life Bookstores, said, “Tree of Life is excited to support Charleston Southern University in its mission to equip students for academic excellence, leadership and service in a Christian environment. We look forward to positively impacting the students at CSU by providing access to the course materials they need to be as successful as possible.” 

Students can begin placing orders for Summer II books at Tree of Life Books now. From the campus store portal, students can purchase or rent course materials, access digital textbooks and see when rentals are due. See Summer Term FAQs here and further general answers below. 


Tuition increases are based primarily on CSU’s basic operating costs that go up each year, such as utilities, insurance, supplies, etc. We’re also investing in better services and facilities for our students – such as the renovations to the student center that have been asked for by our students, staff, and faculty. It will provide more gathering areas for our students. Books are a small part of the increase.

The OneFee model fulfills orders with a mixture of physical and digital items, with the system determining which format to fulfill the order based on the better price point as well as availability and timing of enrollment.

The Print Upgrade preference allows for a student who is adverse to receiving digital books to avoid getting digital, unless a digital only item has been adopted. That Print Upgrade preference tells the system that it does not matter if the digital is the better price point and to fulfill it with physical regardless. Should digital be an option, and at a better price point, and the student has opted to receive print copy only, the cost is $9.99 per credit hour (NOT per book). So for a 3-credit hour course, that student would pay at the most $29.97 total for all books (whether it’s 2 or 10). Selecting this option does apply it to all courses that semester, but each course is different dependent on the books offered. 

Many of our Gen Z students prefer digital when it’s available; however, others still enjoy a good hard copy book and can set their preferences as such.

Much like the stock market, the price of books rises and falls based on supply and demand. Using proprietary software, the company buys books in bulk when they’re the cheapest (months before the semester begins). In addition, they exploit their massive buying power to purchase books from publishers at prices well below what an individual could find on their own. In almost every case, students will save significant money overall as a result of our new partnership with Tree of Life.

Any student may opt out of this program; however, tuition will remain the same.

In Tree of Life’s long history, only a handful of students decide to opt out once they factor in the general cost savings, the convenience of having books delivered to their door in a single package, and the added benefit to student learning of ensuring that every student in every class will have every book they need to succeed from the first day of class.

Books are included in tuition for all undergraduate students! This also applies to all graduates and online programs, with the exception of the Physician Assistant Program, 10-month accelerated MBA, Master of Education Program, and employees on tuition grant.

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