October 20, 2014

Bookstore No More

By: Keyunna Singleton

Staff

Over the summer the John Jay administration prepared to welcome students and faculty to a campus without a bookstore. On Aug. 14 John Jay became the first CUNY campus to have a completely virtual bookstore.

One of the reasons the physical bookstore was removed from campus was be- cause of lack of sales. According to Patricia Ketterer, the executive director of finance and business services, there was a steady decline in sales from the bookstore over the years.

“The rent was not being made from sales or Barnes and Nobles commission,” said Ketterer.

Some of the decline in sales is due to the changes in federal laws pertaining to financial aid. One in particular states schools cannot mandate that students use their federal book vouchers at the school. Students were given the right to use the disbursement anywhere they pleased.

Another regulation enforces schools to ensure that students have access to their course reading lists and prices before the start of class. According to Mark Flower, business manager in the Business and Finance department, “the new online book- store adheres to this regulation and Barnes and Nobles didn’t.”

Although this year’s August sales exceeded last year’s, the administration is not as concerned with sales as they are with making sure that the students’ needs are met. “Our real drive is reducing the cost of books and having students prepared for class,” said Ketterer.

As the first CUNY school to have a fully virtual bookstore the John Jay student body feel like they are missing something. English major Nycol Martin says, “The biggest disappointment about not having a physical bookstore is feeling like we lost a part of campus.”

One of the other issues that Martin says she has to deal with since the change is getting her books on time for class. “I use go to the bookstore and get the book the day of and read it on the train. Now, it’s a 5-7 day wait.”

While some students like Martin feel cheated out of a piece of campus, others haven’t really noticed the difference. Sophomore Aaron Thomas says he stopped using the bookstore his second semester. “ I am much more comfortable using Chegg and Amazon,” said Thomas.

According to Flower, the online bookstore offers some of the features of Chegg and Amazon. In the sites marketplace, students have the option to purchase new or used books and rent books.

John Jay’s online bookstore links directly to CUNYFirst. “Every John Jay student can login to the bookstore with their CUNYFirst ID and the bookstore makes it easy to find the books required for their classes, because it is course specific,” said Flower.

Students also have multiple options for delivery when ordering from the online bookstore. From Monday-Friday between 12pm-3pm and 5pm-7pm students can pick up their books from the John Jay mailroom located at L2.66.00.

While some students question why they weren’t informed about the changes to the campus, Ketterer assures that there was in fact an email blast. “We couldn’t make the official announcement until the vendor was selected, which was around the beginning of June,” said Ketterer.

For students that need help navigating the online bookstore there is a table stationed at the atrium in the new building on Mondays and Wednesday until the end of the month with representatives from the bookstore that can help with questions and concerns.

Julie Kuljurgis, the account manager for the bookstore, says that the biggest problem they’ve had is transitioning. Kuljurgis was excited about some of the benefits that the bookstore offers, such as “year round book sell back and it doesn’t have to be a course book,” she said.

The bookstore is also willing to workwith campus clubs and organizations that may need to place orders for books. According to Kuljurgis, the online bookstore does accept purchase orders. In addition, the school’s contract renewal with MBJ will have the school’s new café, Lil J Café, located on 58th street and 11th avenue, sell merchandise, such as hoodies, and t-shirts.

The current online bookstore does not have an option for apparel or school memoranda but new contracts will fix this issue for the dedicated bloodhounds.

Ketterer confirms that within the month John Jay will enter into a contract with a different online company called “Advanced Online” that will sell John Jay merchandise.

John Jay may be without a physical bookstore, but they are not without options.

Closing the “Borders” on Books

Borders Books at 1807 Fordham Boulevard in Cha...

Image via Wikipedia

Once an enticing scene for possibilities, Seattle’s Best Coffee and book-healthy shelves that welcomed readers is now merely a barren wasteland. Empty shelves, dust-mites and collective misfortune taint the once flourishing Borders bookstore.

Embedded within their regional communities, Borders bookstores have finally closed the doors to its dedicated readers and long-time customers. “Borders is the bookstore I go to a lot. I was upset and I really don’t like Barnes and Noble; it’s sad [that it’s closing] and they always have discounts and a good feel to the store,” said college student Amelia Ashmall, who was shopping for LSAT books.

Borders was the place many college students, including community members, went to when they needed discounted books and a place to interact with other shoppers. “I honestly felt like NYC didn’t have enough book stores. It’s depressing and I think that we should be opening more not closing—it’s our priority,” said Michael Sullivan, senior. Enthusiastic readers usually sat down in the aisles between bookshelves and read until their hearts content. However, it displeased many of the associates there because it became a disorganized habit.

Some customers are left in deep sorrow and others are unfazed by this change. “I prefer Barnes and Noble to Borders. They always have more things there, unless its better here then I come here. I can only guess they were doing badly with management and prices; marketing was bad too,” said Louis, a banker in the city.

It was a safe-haven for readers, writers, educators, and dreamers; Borders invited best-selling authors to book signings for fans and provided children with activities year-round to keep them occupied and entertained. “I’m shopping for children’s books and toys. I got an e-mail about Borders closing soon and I was sad. I used to go to the Borders in the World Trade Center and I guess they opened too many too soon. Their sales aren’t competitive with Amazon, maybe that’s why they’re closing,” said Betty Hazelnut, regular customer at 34th street.

Borders operated 399 locations across the country and employed approximately 10, 700 employees. Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Borders Group approved the court proposal to handover the company to Hilco and Gordon Brothers. According to news releases on borders.com, “This release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.” In compliance, due to bankruptcy, Borders had to liquidate.

“Borders owes the publishers a lot of money. Publishers don’t want to give any books because of that; the bankruptcy court was more towards paying off the creditors,” said Daniel Medina, sales associate at Borders on 34th street. “Workers are trying to find jobs now.”