The university signed over the Campus Store to Barnes and Noble College the week before classes started. The employees were told on Aug. 21 just before the store opened.
“We were only one of two public universities in Indiana who had not already hired somebody to lease their store and operate it,” said Jeffrey Sickman, controller and assistant treasurer. Vincennes University is the only other university to have its own bookstore, said Sickman.
The change from the university to Barnes and Noble College will not be sudden. Barnes and Noble will be running the Campus Store while also transitioning the space in order to prepare for the upcoming spring semester.
The university has no say in who Barnes and Noble College hires, nor whether or not they continue to employ those who currently work there.
The workers’ last day will be Oct. 15. Right now it is unclear if workers who re-apply will be given preferential treatment.
“Employees who work there now will have the opportunity to [re]apply if they’re interested, if they’re not interested, there’s no obligation on their part to do it,” Sickman said. He said that Barnes and Noble College will be hiring students.
The university is having a difficult time keeping up the campus store for two reasons, Sickman said.
The first reason is because of finances. The Campus Store gives the university money for scholarships, Sickman said, and the Campus Store’s sales have dropped over one million dollars in the last five years.
The second reason is because of changes in the publishing industry-publishers are just less willing to sell used books to college bookstores, Sickman said.
“Although I’m proud of what we’ve done over the years, obviously affordability of materials for students is important,” Sickman said. “And any small business has difficulty competing with larger retailers across all sectors of business. So we just found it more and more difficult to compete.”
The university didn’t want to get to the point where the Campus Store was more of a hindrance to the university than an advantage.
“Rather than having it become a drain on the financial resources, we went to act before it got to that point,” Sickman said.
A national company has more resources than the university does, and will be able to give better prices on textbooks as well, Sickman said. The university decided that Barnes and Noble College was the best option for the university after looking at several business models from other companies.
The technology part of the campus store is also disappearing when Barnes and Noble College takes over.
“Barnes and Noble [College] have had its own relationship with different technology suppliers, and they’ll be offering the products that they determine they want to offer,” said Sickman.
Barnes and Noble College will continue working with Financial Aid and will be instituting a year long buy-back program for textbooks.
Barnes and Noble College also has a price match program. They will match the price of everywhere except amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com, which is just something the university can’t do.
“We’re doing this as a university with the students in mind. And that’s the motivation for this decision of student affordability being one of our major considerations,” Sickman said.