The Georgetown University Bookstore will switch vendors from Follett to Barnes & Noble when the university’s contract with Follett expires at the end of June 2016.
The decision to switch from Follett, which has been the bookstore’s vendor for the past 20 years, came after a year of deliberation by Georgetown University’s Auxiliary Business Services, which contracts all vendors on campus.
Associate Vice President of Georgetown’s Auxiliary Business Services Joelle Wiese said the decision was made in agreement with hired consultants, faculty and students.
“Last March, we put together a working group with 12 faculty administrators and five students to talk about potential vendors,” Wiese said. “We tried to figure out what do we want from a new bookstore and what students want, what makes sense for Georgetown.”
After sending out requests for potential vendors in the fall, Auxiliary Business Services received responses in December from the current vendor Follett and Barnes & Noble, which currently serves 786 other colleges and universities across the country.
Auxiliary Business Services held additional stakeholder meetings and conducted surveys across campus before making a final decision. Wiese said the university considered a variety of factors before it chose to switch vendors to Barnes and Noble.
“A lot of things went into the decision to ultimately switch: what students are looking for, what makes sense, the pricing, the retail, look and feel,” Weise said.
According to Wiese, shifts in demand and technology over the past few years have been a driving force for the changes.
“Over the past 10 years we’ve seen a lot of changes in the market from the digital perspective. Students might have classes that don’t have textbooks,” Wiese said. “There’s a variety of things that play into the market itself, and what students are looking for.”
Despite the changes, the bookstore merchandise will remain the same. The university’s contracts with retailers including Nike, Ping, and League #47 will remain in place while the store switches to Barnes & Noble.
The university and Barnes & Noble will also make physical changes to the space. A new entrance will be added where the Office of Campus Ministry is currently located, and glass windows will be added to the perimeter of the store along with improved lighting.
Wiese said the new improvements to the bookstore will also include offering more technology in the store and other locations where students can receive tech support and GOCard assistance.
“You’re also going to see more technology in the store. We’re going to have a GOCard kiosk, so if you have any questions with your GOCard, you can pop in there and get a new one,” Wiese said. “We’re going to have a UIS [University Information Services] help desk and more Apple product services, so if you have any questions or issues with your Apple products, you can have someone there.”
One major issue the Auxiliary Business Services considered when choosing Barnes & Noble over Follett was the price of books. The Business Manager of Auxiliary Business Services Adam Ramadan said they will continue to work with vendors to keep book prices low.
“We know how expensive books are and so whatever we can do with the vendor, or our faculty in terms of getting book lists in as soon as possible, we will do,” Ramadan said. “Whatever we can do to keep book prices down is all in our best favor.”
Georgetown University Student Association Deputy Chief of Staff Garret Williams (COL ‘18) said he supported the bookstore changes and was glad students were involved in the decision making process.
“We’re thrilled to see this transition from Follett to Barnes & Noble in the university bookstore management. Students have been involved with this process every step of the way,” Williams said.
Sienna Mori (COL ‘18) said the improvements are necessary. “These renovations sound like they could provide much needed improvements to the current store. Additionally, the possibility of lower prices would be great,” said Mori.
Emily Kong (SFS ’16) said she supports the changes but also said students need more information on the rationale behind the changes.
“I guess it would be nice, but it kind of depends on why they are upgrading or at what cost,” Kong said.
Hoya Staff Writer Jesse Jacobs contributed reporting.