USFSP Barnes & Noble/Starbucks Cafe window displays 50 percent off sale signs. Photo courtesy of Eillin Delapaz/Connect.
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New bookstore to replace Barnes & Noble at USFSP

It’s time to make way for a new bookstore on campus. As Barnes & Noble’s contract approached expiration with the University of South Florida system June 30, 2018, the university put out an invitation to negotiate, and the best offer won.

Joining 80,000 other schools across the country, the University of South Florida is now transitioning to Follett.

Here at the St. Petersburg campus, Barnes & Noble has been the one-stop shop for students and faculty for the past 15 years. The bookstore supplied books and textbooks, school spirit apparel, accessories, supplies and electronics. Let’s not forget the Starbucks and lounge area suitable for reading, studying or simply hanging out between classes.

Barnes & Noble is scheduled to close June 28 and is hoping to reopen July 2 as a new bookstore. In the meantime, the bookstore is attempting to sell what is left of its books and merchandise. The store is flooded with colorful sale signs reading, “All red-lined items 50% off ticketed price.”

Despite the alluring sale, several students around campus stated that they received no notice and knew nothing about the changes.

“I only go to the bookstore to get my textbooks,” USFSP student Avery Gordon said. “So I had no idea they were closing.”

Sophomore Alexis Sthlueter stated that she saw the sale signs but did not know it was due to future closure.

It may not be long before Barnes & Noble is no longer the largest book retailer in the U.S. Over the past decade, low sales, falling stock prices and innovations of competitors like Amazon have furthered the decline of dozens of stores across the country.

USFSP’s Associate Director of Financial Services, Bruce Coble, said that the university’s decision to switch to Follett was based on the savings the switch would offer to students.

“Barnes & Noble seems to be more profit geared,” USFSP junior, Austin Travis, said. Travis goes to the Barnes & and Noble bookstore a few times every school year and had heard from other students about the changes. Concerning Follett, Travis said, “I feel that since their focus is more on students that they might be cheaper.”

USFSP Barnes & Noble bookstore displaying school spirit merchandise. Photo courtesy of Eillin Delapaz/Connect.

USFSP Barnes & Noble bookstore displaying school spirit merchandise. Photo courtesy of Eillin Delapaz/Connect.

While Follett is new to USF, it is far from a new establishment. Follett’s been around for over 140 years and has partnered with schools and colleges of all grade levels. The Illinois based company was founded by Charles M. Barnes, father of William Barnes who, along with G. Clifford Noble, founded Barnes & Noble.

Today, Follett is the largest distributor of books and educational products in the world.

Follett’s mission statement reads they “bring together educational content, products and technologies to prepare the next generation of learners and educators.”

The new campus bookstore will not differ too much. Students will still be able to buy or rent textbooks in-store or online as well as school spirit apparel, supplies, etc. There will be a cafe, but students will have to say goodbye to Starbucks as Follett will utilize its own supplier.

Student employment will also continue, and most of the current staff will remain. Students are encouraged to apply depending on position availability.


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