Starting this academic year, Barnes & Noble will operate the Campus Store as part of a university agreement which will allow students more options and discounts.
The university still owns the store, but the multinational corporation will run the store through a commission-based agreement that allows both parties to partake in the profits, said Katie Longley, associate vice president of finance at the university. Barnes & Noble will provide additional services, such as student internships and price-matching.
“In terms of gear and spirit wear, they’re going to offer the same, if not better,” Longley said. “They have good, better, best pricing…you can get good quality, better quality and best quality. There’s much more of a range in terms of the availability at different price points.”
Barnes & Noble owning the bookstore has advantages for store manager, Scott Harsh, such as connections to other managers across the country. Longley said the university requested that the company allow current employees at the store to continue working in the same positions, although they did have to go through an application process with the company. As employees of Barnes & Noble, campus store workers will receive compensation through the company, rather than through the university.
The university chose Barnes & Noble after receiving proposals from about four other companies. Longley said the university’s senior leadership team and a committee of faculty gave feedback on the decision. The finance team also compared campus stores at Southern Methodist University, which also uses Barnes & Noble, Dallas Baptist University, which uses Follett, and Texas Christian University, which had Barnes & Noble but recently switched to Follett.
“We made sure to reach out to [TCU] to kind of say, ‘Hey, what was the deal? What was the switch for?” Longley said. “They had different reasons for doing that, but we wanted to make sure that we touched base on all of the sister schools to see what everybody was doing.”
Barnes & Noble will fund a remodel in the next year or so, Longley said, and at that time the university will have the option to rebrand the store as Barnes & Noble or keep the “ACU” branding.
Tim Head, associate professor of physics and chair of the faculty senate, helped provide feedback before the university made the decision. He said the old campus store system wasn’t always reliable for getting students the right books at the right time. Professors had to fill out time-consuming forms or use a software program to submit book orders for classes. Barnes & Noble will implement a new process for professors to request books.
“I don’t think they had their process in place by the time we needed to choose books for the fall semester,” Head said. “Because of these meetings I’ve seen what the system should be and it looks really nice and probably easy to use.”
The store will still have a trade system for students to sell back their textbooks. Applications for the store can be found online here.