Many students were extremely upset when the UConn Co-Op was bought by Barnes & Noble two years ago and became the UConn Bookstore. Despite the best efforts of students to reverse the decision by gathering 6,805 signatures on a petition and meeting with those in charge of the deal, the UConn Bookstore became the official name of the campus-wide institution during the summer of 2016. Since this time, many students have continued to be irritated by the switch, feeling that prices have risen on books and apparel, and missing the independence the Co-Op had as a privately-owned entity. However, what many students do not realize is that the new UConn Bookstore’s deal with Barnes & Noble has actually benefited the university greatly.
The the new bookstore has only been owned and operated by Barnes & Noble College for around two years; in that short amount of time, it has paid more than $9 million dollars to the university. According to a new report by UConn Today, “The partnership is generating $4.5 million in the current academic year, building on another $5 million that B&N College provided the University in 2016-2017 under the terms of its contract.” So far, nearly half of this money has gone into scholarships for students, while the other half of the money has gone into remodeling and renovating the building. UConn Today also reported significant savings specifically felt by students with regard to textbook purchases due to the use of used, digital and rental books.
This report is troubling, specifically because from most students’ points of view, it does not seem like money spent on textbooks has reduced at all. However, the numbers here do not lie. Textbook prices are high everywhere, no matter the company you are purchasing them from. UConn’s reported numbers, which claim students are saved $661,000 in the most recent fall semester, prove that while students can claim high prices due to the switch to Barnes & Noble ownership, the real issue is not the company, it is the universal cost of textbooks overall.
While students may have been unhappy with the transition of the UConn Co-Op to the Bookstore in 2016, the new Barnes & Noble owned bookstore has undoubtedly had benefits for our university, whether or not we realize it. In saving students’ money and giving extra money directly to fund scholarships, the bookstore is supporting a better future for students at UConn, both for their education and finances. While remodeling the inside of the store may not seem like it benefits students, it makes our school more attractive to current students, donors and prospective students which may also benefit UConn in future years. Despite misconceptions that the UConn Bookstore is harming students financially and was an unwelcome change for our campus, the new bookstore has brought more good than harm which should not go unnoticed.