Vanderbilt’s bookstore not renewing contract with Barnes & Noble

The change in vendor will occur on June 1.


Emery Little

A desk with study materials, as photographed on Sept. 2, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

Rachael Perrotta, Deputy News Editor

Barnes & Noble at Vanderbilt will switch hands on June 1 while remaining in its current location. As part of a 10-year contract with Follett Higher Education Group (Follett), the new store will be called Vanderbilt Bookstore

Follett operates over 1200 campus stores across North America, including Stanford University, New York University (NYU) and the University of Notre Dame. Vanderbilt’s bookstore was managed by Follett between 2001 and 2011. Per Executive Director of Business Services at Vanderbilt David ter Kuile, the bookstore vendor change comes after 10 years under contract with Barnes & Noble College (B&N)

“Consistent with all auxiliary operations, Vanderbilt keeps abreast of industry changes, trends, and other factors impacting its bookstore,” he said in an email to The Hustler. “The end of the B&N contract provided an opportunity for the university to take a fresh look at a broad range of options, including the spectrum of operating models, store configurations, and bookstore operators.”  

ter Kuile said that this choice was made with the input of members of the Vanderbilt community, including students, alumni, faculty, staff and fans. He added that the change has been over two years in the works.

“Preliminary internal study began over two years ago, with the formal RFP process and advisory committee working for over ten months to make this decision,” his email read. “The decision to move forward with Follett was reached with broad consensus from across multiple constituencies.”

Per ter Kuile, the new Vanderbilt Bookstore will render the same services and physical textbook options as the current bookstore. He said that Follett plans to offer more online services and updated products, and is working with Vanderbilt faculty to supply course textbooks starting in Summer 2021.

“Digital content will be integrated into Brightspace so students will have all digital medium from classroom and bookstore in one location,” ter Kuile said in an email to The Hustler. “Follett’s retail plans include a significant refresh of branded merchandise, including new brands and concepts.”

Until its opening on June 1, the bookstore will be closed starting May 22 to account for the transition to the new Vanderbilt Bookstore. More changes will occur in the store throughout the summer, but the location will remain open throughout these modifications.

“Updates to the space will occur over the summer with the goal of having renovations completed before the first day of classes for the fall semester,” ter Kuile said.

These changes include the removal of the B&N Café, which ter Kuile said will be replaced with “multi-purpose spaces.”

“The second floor will provid[e] comfortable seating options, creating an inviting space for students, faculty and visitors to relax and recharge,” he said. “There will also be a flex space which will support visiting authors and other academic events at the Vanderbilt Bookstore.”

According to ter Kuile, current bookstore workers have the opportunity to continue their employment at the new store.

Follett has made employment offers to those current B&N at Vanderbilt staff members who have expressed a desire to work at the new Vanderbilt Bookstore,” his email read.

ter Kuile expressed that the new Vanderbilt Bookstore will offer a more adaptive experience for members of the Vanderbilt community.

For Vanderbilt, Follett is the operator that provides the best fit for the current needs of our university,” he said.