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The Source

College Sets New Course for the Bookstore

August 07, 2017

After an evaluation of operations and a survey of community sentiment, Vice President for Business and Finance Alan Finn has announced that Lewis & Clark will seek an outside partner to run the bookstore.

“Against industry trends, eight years ago we made a very deliberate decision to manage our own bookstore after more than two decades working with Barnes & Noble. Unfortunately, our independent endeavor is no longer financially sustainable, as we’ve experienced recurring annual losses,” said Finn. “We need a new model, one with an external partner who will ensure the bookstore does not deplete our resources and who will provide the products and services that everyone in the community would like to see.”

Before the start of the school year, the Business Office will issue an RFP seeking a new bookstore vendor. The goal is to select a partner who will begin operations sometime in the academic year. In the meantime, the bookstore will continue to operate as it does now.

Last December a committee chaired by Dean of Students Anna Gonzalez was formed to review the bookstore’s operations. The group was composed of representatives from the College of Arts and Sciences faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and Graduate School and Common Services staff, including Alumni and Parent Programs and Athletics. In addition to examining the financial performance of the bookstore, the committee researched industry trends, visited bookstores at other colleges, and completed a community survey that garnered more than 1,100 responses from the on-campus community and alumni.

The benefits expected from a new bookstore partnership include the following:

  • Support from a regional and national management team
  • Contractual limits on the mark-up of products; i.e., price protection for students
  • Increased buying power
  • An improved bookstore website
  • Established training programs to benefit staff and student workers
  • Additional programs that support our academic mission
  • An opportunity for a Bookstore Advisory Group to provide ongoing feedback.