Saturday, September 17, 2016

As Amazon Arrives, the Campus Bookstore Is a Books Store No More

[ed. They're everywhere. I wonder why Amazon doesn't start branding everything with their logo like Nike does.]

As school started at Stony Brook University this month, two freshmen, Juan Adames and John Taveras, set out to buy textbooks.

They had not heard yet that the bookstore was a books store no more.

This summer, Stony Brook, part of the State University of New York, announced a partnership with the online retailer Amazon, now the university’s official book retailer. Students can purchase texts through a Stony Brook-specific Amazon page and have them delivered to campus.

In the campus store where the textbooks used to be, there are now adult coloring books, racks of university-branded polos and windbreakers and three narrow bookshelves displaying assorted novels. The rest of the store is a vibrant collage of spirit wear and school supplies: backpacks and baseball caps; pompom hats and striped scarves; notebooks and correction fluid. There will soon be a Starbucks.

“I was a bit thrown off by the appearance,” Mr. Adames said.

It is a conversation occurring on campuses across the country: If more and more students are buying and renting their course books online, why do they need a bookstore? (...)

According to Mr. Walton, textbooks are generally not the focus of college bookstores, anyway. A school on a two-semester system has an approximately eight-week period of textbook activity per year, he estimated.

“The function of the store has been oversimplified to textbooks,” he said. “The store really functions on a variety of levels.”

Admissions tour groups pass through; visiting alumni stop by; faculty and staff members go there for the convenience, Mr. Walton said.

“If anything’s in danger, I would say the thing that’s probably the danger is that textbooks are going to go away,” he said. “The store continues to serve a number of functions that people just don’t recognize.”

At Stony Brook, the former bookstore has become “a branding piece,” Mr. Baigent said, which helps to provide more of a “campus university identity.”

by Arielle Dollinger, NY Times |  Read more:
Image: Dave Sanders