UNO Bookstore Gains New Leadership, Expands Student Choices
Corporatizing bookstore will collectively save students about $500,000 through text rentals
The University of New Orleans Bookstore goes corporate this week – and in the process realizes major savings for students and expands student choices.
Follett Higher Education Group, a nearly 150-year-old family-owned bookstore provider, will now be running the UNO Bookstore, said University President Peter J. Fos, who convened a national search committee to arrange new leadership and licensing in an effort to save the University and students money while expanding purchasing options for UNO students and the community-at-large.
Follett works with more than 930 bookstores nationwide, including Xavier University and Dillard University of New Orleans, and provides management systems, support services, and course materials to more than 1,600 independently managed campus stores, according to the company's website.
"Textbook rental is probably the biggest change that students will immediately realize," said Follett Vice President of Operations Suzanne Stegmann about the UNO Bookstore. "I haven't done an exact analysis of the text list yet but the students can expect that at least 40 percent of the textbooks here in the store will be available for rent. We immediately expect to save students about $500,000 through the text rental program in the first year."
Figures were calculated using sales information from Pat Lynn, the University's new director of auxiliary services. Textbook rentals save 50 percent off the price of the book right off the bat, Stegmann said. Variable pricing could increase savings for students on some purchases. Students should be able to rent at least 40 percent of their books through the store, Stegmann said.
Students will be able to rent their textbooks online or in the store, Stegmann said. A new UNO Bookstore website, where they will be a full selection of UNO products, should be fully operational within the next week.
"Students can rent and buy textbooks. They can also rent and buy digital texts," said Stegmann. "So besides affordability, I think choice is going to be the next thing that students really see a difference in. Whether it's used, new, rental or digital, we're going to make it available online or in the store.
"In the past, rental has only been an option online through a third party here at UNO," she said. "Now it's going to be available right here in the store. It's going to be huge."
Corporatizing the bookstore allows general merchandise and centralized buying, said Stegmann, who saw two real big advantages for the University and for students.
First, highly trained buyers who make their living following trends and student interests regularly attend trade shows around the nation, allowing them ample opportunities and choices allowing them to stay fashion-forward. Second, being part of a national operation allows a larger selection of merchandise and buying power – for a lot of clothing merchandise, the new bookstore will offer "a good, better, best option," said Stegmann.
For example, Follett-run bookstores typically offer an everyday rolled neck T-shirt with a traditional University logo at a really reasonable price point of $12.95. Nationally they hold specials for back-to-school items, offering a special $7.95 T-shirt special for back to school in August or September and a crew neck in winter for $19.95, for example.
"Whether they're looking for a low-cost option or something that's a better quality," students will have options, said Stegmann, adding that the afore-mentioned promotions are part of a low-cost strategy. Follett will also bring in brand names such as North Face, PING and Hurley.
The UNO Athletics Department will soon unveil its major sponsor a Nike or Adidas-level brand, for example -- and Follett will sell athletic gear at University in the bookstore and at games.
The bookstore has a new manager on July 15. Bryce Hutcherson, who will be arriving at UNO from South Carolina State University, also previously worked at Grambling State. He brings a wealth of experience to the University, Stegmann said.
The new-and-improved UNO Bookstore will also offer an extensive selection of trade books or general books, including a local list, national best sellers, as well as "the book you can't put down, Freshmen reads...a very robust selection of general reading books," Stegmann said. "We're going to have a pretty full selection."
And, to help make life easier for students living on campus, the bookstore will also offer a small selection of convenience and dorm items, such as personal items and laundry detergent, Stegmann said.
"We're so thrilled to be on campus. Everybody has been so welcoming," the Follett leader said. "We want to serve the campus community and the community at large with these programs."