Barnes & Noble to operate University Bookstore$2 million makeover to include Starbucks coffee vendor
The University Bookstore will undergo $2 million in renovations -- including the addition of a music department and a dine-in cafe serving Starbucks coffee -- as part of an agreement reached earlier this month with national bookstore chain Barnes & Noble.
Barnes & Noble will assume operation of the main campus and Downtown Center bookstores May 15. Construction on the main campus bookstore is expected to begin at the end of spring quarter.
The new store, which will continue to be called University of Chicago Bookstore, will provide a greater variety of goods at a wider range of prices, expanded medical and law sections, a large selection of general books, a music department that will sell CDs and tapes, and a cafe serving Starbucks coffee and sandwiches.
"Barnes & Noble has an outstanding record as a manager of college and university bookstores as well as a general bookseller. We believe our association with Barnes & Noble will turn what is a good bookstore into an excellent bookstore," said Henry Webber, Associate Vice President for Administration.
The store will be directed by Dan Edes, who is currently Barnes & Noble's regional manager for western New York state. Edes, who has been with the company since 1979, previously managed the Barnes & Noble bookstore at California State University in Los Angeles. He received his B.A. in 1974 from the University of Maine and his M.A. in 1980 and his Ph.D. in 1986 from the University of Rochester, all in anthropology.
"I'm really excited to be coming to Chicago for several reasons," Edes said. "The academic stature of Chicago is a big draw for me both personally and as Director of the Bookstore, and what we intend to do with the bookstore -- adding the in-store cafe and the music department -- is a fairly new concept for any college store.
"It will be a pleasure, too, to continue to define the University of Chicago Bookstore's niche among all the other great bookstores in Hyde Park -- a neighborhood that seems to be the bookstore capital of the world!"
Barnes & Noble currently operates the bookstores at more than 200 colleges and universities -- including Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the College of William and Mary -- and in September it took over management of the Boston University bookstore, the largest academic bookstore in the city of Boston, Webber said.
Renovations will integrate the two floors of the University Bookstore into one enclosed store with two levels, creating a more cohesive unit, Webber said. Under the current arrangement, the two floors of the bookstore are operated as two separate stores. Plans for the new space call for one main entrance to the store, with the staircase to the second floor moved to the rear of the first floor.
The first floor of the store will contain general trade books -- including an extensive offering of science books -- periodicals, the music department and the cafe, and the second floor will contain University gifts and school and office supplies, as well as medical, law and other academic reference books.
"The main campus bookstore is a major supplier of books in science, technology and medicine, and the Downtown Center bookstore is one of the best bookstores for business texts in the city, if not the Midwest. This will not change," Webber said. While maintaining its strengths in these areas, the main campus bookstore will continue to offer a selection of books in the humanities and social sciences to complement the extensive offerings in these areas available at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, located at 58th Street and University Avenue.
"One of the reasons we chose Barnes & Noble over other companies is its commitment to maintaining the University Bookstore's strengths, while continuing to balance those strengths with those of the other outstanding bookstores in Hyde Park," Webber said.
In order to best serve the academic community, Barnes & Noble will continue the University Bookstore's practice of special-ordering any published book in the world at the customer's request.
The new arrangement will benefit customers, Webber said, by providing better service, selection and ambiance. Webber also cited several advantages to the University:
_ While the University Bookstore will remain local in its focus, catering to the needs of the University community, the bookstore and its customers will benefit from the expertise and financial backing of a national chain.
_ The bookstore space will undergo $2 million in renovations, financed by Barnes & Noble.
_ The University will no longer bear the financial problems of the bookstore, which lost more than $1 million in the past five years. Under the new arrangement with Barnes & Noble, the University will receive an annual percentage of all Barnes & Noble sales from this bookstore.
Barnes & Noble has agreed to retain the University Bookstore's 50 employees at their current salaries and with a comparable benefits package for a minimum of one year, Webber said.
"This arrangement offers University Bookstore employees greater potential for advancement," Webber said. "One of the problems with the bookstore now is that the opportunities for promotion are very limited. The new arrangement offers potential for employees to advance both within the University Bookstore and within the Barnes & Noble company."
Morry's Deli will close its bookstore location but will continue its food service in Hutchinson Commons, and the Copy Center will move to the third floor of the bookstore building. The bookstore's office machines department will continue under University self-management, with offices at 5020 S. Cornell.