By Kierstin Molnaur and Abby Murk
In the early morning hours of July 27, shelves were stocked while nervous managers anticipated Aug. 3.
The transition from Follett to Barnes & Noble College was a quick one. It required employees from several different stores in the region to come in and put together the store for its opening.
“We were given access to the bookstore on July 27 and we basically had a week to remodel, get new fixtures in, remerchandise and open for business by August 3,” said the bookstore manager, Deana Reed. “We had managers from all the way down in West Virginia to stay for the week to help us. I’m very grateful for my coworkers because they did miracles in that week. At times, we had about 30 Barnes & Noble employees come in.”
The bookstores on both the Lawrenceville and Westminster campuses are now represented and managed by Barnes & Noble College, providing class materials, supplies and a large selection of common interest books.
DonnaJean Fredeen, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said the university is pleased with the transition from the previous company, Follett.
“Barnes & Noble College has a well-known reputation for customer service, and is committed to providing superior merchandise and affordable textbooks for our students on both of our campuses,” said Fredeen. “We are excited to bring the resources of Barnes & Noble College to Rider University.”
The company provides textbooks in multiple formats to suit student needs. It has developed a modern digital platform called Yuzu, which provides a selection of new and used books that are frequently required course materials, as well as an online and in-store rental textbook program.
The bookstore is a test store for a new program that implements a “lowest price guarantee,” according to Reed. The price-match program allows students to purchase a normally avoided new textbook for a significantly lower cost as long as they bring a competitor’s less expensive price to staff attention. The program also works for used and rental textbooks as long as they are not from the third party marketplace and the rental term period is the same as the bookstore.
“If a student finds a book from Amazon that is $20 less expensive than our store and they already purchased it from us, they can come back within seven days and get a gift card for the difference,” said Reed. “If they come to us with that price when they are purchasing the book, then we will match that price. But it cannot be from a third-party marketplace. If it is from Amazon, it must be bought from Amazon and shipped from Amazon.”
Westminster Choir College’s bookstore also received upgrades, including technological advancements, building refurbishments and performance space additions.
Millie Richardson, store manager at the Princeton campus for 17 years, said the turnover from Follett to Barnes & Noble has made a substantial impact.
“I think the tradeoff is great,” Richardson said. “It’s nice that people are able to have the amenities that Barnes & Noble is offering.”
According to Richardson, the layout of the Princeton store is now easier to navigate quickly, which is a plus for busy students. She loves the renovations to the upstairs textbook area. Now, there are noticeably larger signs over the tops of shelves indicating the subjects of the books below. Additionally, not having to use book vouchers is praised by both the students and Richardson. Even with these changes, students can still buy the same sheet music, textbooks, snacks and beverages with more options presented to them.
It is worth noting that there are more buying options in the sheet music section than what is represented. Students, professors and local musicians alike can still get what they need at the Westminster bookstore, even if it isn’t lined up on the shelf. Anything can be ordered online or through a form at the front desk of the store.
The online bookstore for both campuses will also be controlled by Barnes & Noble College. In addition, the store features a larger selection of Rider University apparel, new technology, laptops and music materials. The store on the Princeton campus is a place where students can relax, study and enjoy free time. Rider faculty will also have advanced access to an online community called FacultyEnlight (www.facultyenlight.com). This access is a streamlined textbook adoption platform that combines advanced search capabilities with detailed information on course material formats, reviews and pricing by other faculty.
Overall, Reed is excited for the future of the bookstore on the Lawrenceville campus because the store will be implementing several events to get students to look forward to visiting.
“The first event is the ‘Boo-store Bash,’” said Reed. The event is a Halloween-themed night with movie clips, popcorn, refreshments, raffles, games and a photo-booth. It is scheduled for Oct. 20 from 6-9 p.m.
“We don’t want to be just the bookstore and I don’t want to be just the bookstore manager,” she said. “I want students to be here just because they want to see what’s new and exciting. We want to be a part of the campus.”
Additional reporting by Julia Corrigan