College Bookstores Should Not Have Cosmetics Counters

Have things really gotten worse?

April 8, 2014

I’m sure I don’t understand how college bookstores work. Even after spending some time on the National Association of College Stores website, I remain mostly confused.

Who owns the stores?  

What is the relationship between the college bookstores and the college?  

How is college bookstore different from a regular bookstore?

Hopefully you can point me to some answers.  That would be appreciated.

While you are sharing your knowledge, insights and any links about college bookstores - maybe you could answer another question.

Have college bookstores actually gotten worse?

The 25 years or so of data on college bookstores stored on my internal memory banks leads me to believe that the college bookstore story is not a happy one.  Am I wrong?

What I remember from past college bookstore visits is more books.

Lots more books.

I don’t remember vast quantities of floor space taken up by apparel, dubious tech stuff, greeting cards, cheap dorm supplies, and even makeup counters.

What I remember is lots of books.

The one improvement, I’d argue, is the spread of fancy schmancy cafes.  I love the idea of getting a cappuccino and scone while taking a break from book browsing.

But why all the other non-book crap?

Okay, maybe the college bookstore should sell some sweatshirts.  But why not relegate anything that does not have to do with books to small dark place, maybe in the basement?

The college bookstore should reflect the values of the school.  

As we have been touring campuses with our high school junior we try to stop into the college bookstore.  What we are looking for is a combination of tons of books, and nice and inviting spaces to sit and read and chat (and have that gourmet caffeinated beverage).

A college bookstore that invites hours and hours of browsing and discovery is a huge selling point for any school.

My guess is that the colleges have little or no control (probably zero actually) of anything having to do with what the college bookstore sells.  Is that right?

Further, my guess is that all the non-book stuff is actually profitable.  

Huge numbers of obscure academic press books?  Probably not so much.

Can you point to examples of amazing college bookstores, and by amazing I mean stocked to the gills with books that will of only be of interest to grad students and eccentric professors (and those of us who love these folks)?

Can you explain how the college bookstore works?


Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.


Back to Top