Effective July 7, the UCR Campus Store will be managed by Barnes & Noble College (B&N College), a separate branch of Barnes & Noble, and is expected to offer a wider selection of books to students.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jim Sandoval sent out a mass campus email on March 21, in which he said that Highlander Union Building Director Todd Wingate will be in charge of contracting with B&N to establish a Facebook presence, highlighting local events and promotions. The partnership will also seek to inform the UCR community about any new resources and changes to the bookstore.
When asked why the bookstore was changing over to private management, Wingate explained, “It’s the trend of campus bookstores across the country — most bookstores anymore are … run by B&N.” Wingate continued, saying that “It’s the same kind of trend that you see with small independent-owned bookstores that struggle. The textbook industry has just changed a lot.”
One of the main concerns and issues that many students have had regarding the bookstore was the pricing of the books. Kenneth Huynh, a first-year biology major, expressed his concerns with the current bookstore, saying, “The prices of the books are a little too high. I feel that you could get cheaper books anywhere else. I don’t see a privilege buying books at UCR rather than just buying it off of Amazon.”
Wingate stated the university is still working out the logistics of the partnership, but he did point to new options and pricings available for books. “One of the things that’s exciting about B&N is they offer textbooks in all kinds of methods (electronically, used, new and rented), so I think that will be a great service for our students.”
Another potential issue with the new B&N College replacement in management is whether it will meet the needs of the students and community of UCR.
However, Wingate ensured that while many of the details are being worked out, B&N will seek to develop a campus relationship by identifying students’ needs and the type of campus population at UCR. “They spend a lot of time engaging with students on campus, and that really helps shape and define … what they sell, and drives their product line,” he said.
The campus bookstore also employs many students as well as full-time employees. With the new B&N College management, five of the current store employees will continue their work in the store, while the other full-time employees will be placed in positions within the Office of Student Affairs. As a result, no layoffs or change in employee benefits will be enacted. When asked about student employees, Wingate said that “B&N has committed to employing as many student employees as possible.” He explained that it makes sense for Barnes & Noble to hire as many students as possible because the students know the needs of other students who are buying from the bookstore.
B&N College is the manager of many university bookstores across the country and manages nearly 700 campuses nationwide.