Keene State College students may not know it, but their college bookstore has gone through some big changes over the summer.
KSC’s bookstore is now owned and operated by Barnes & Noble College (B&NC). B&NC is a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble Education. According to their website, they operate over 700 campus stores in the U.S.
KSC’s Bookstore Manager Drew Nichols said he is excited to be at KSC. Nichols is a California-native and said he knew New Hampshire was the place he wanted to be.
KSC’s bookstore may be under the Barnes & Noble name, but that doesn’t make it a Barnes & Noble.
Nichols said that it is the store’s job to bend to the needs of the school. There is no cookie cutter plan for a B&NC bookstore.
Nichols said that KSC’s robust art, architecture and music departments require their store to carry many items that other B&NC stores do not.
“We get to mold ourselves to the needs of the college; we’re the Keene State Bookstore,” Nichols said.
There’s a lot of preparatory work that goes into running the KSC Bookstore, according to Nichols.
Nichols and his staff began prepping the store in May. Usually, the bookstore would start prepping for the fall semester in March.
The KSC Bookstore has to order books for over 1,000 sections of classes and has to coordinate with the needs of KSC faculty and staff, most of which were not at KSC during the summer.
This can cause some confusion, but Nichols says that this comes with the transition period.
B&NC brought some benefits to the KSC Bookstore. The bookstore can now price match with Amazon.
Nichols said there are more books available for rent and more digital titles than before.
Eighty-three percent of titles offered in the store can be rented, and 33 percent of titles are available digitally.
Nichols said these first few weeks are their busiest time of the season by far.
With long lines wrapped around the store for most of this week, some students stood patiently, while others expressed their frustrations to others in the queue.
KSC junior and bookstore employee Dylan Rychlik helped prepare the store over the summer.
He said they had to move and stock books, clean up and rearrange the store and pull orders for student pick up.
He said he likes his job, but there have been some rough times this week because students have gotten upset that the store doesn’t have their books or supplies yet.
“Especially the [first-years],” he said. “It’s something they don’t want to hear. It’s stressful for both of us, we want things to go as planned.”
Some students left the bookstore content; others left frustrated. KSC junior Dorothy Arroyo said the store was “better tenfold.” Arroyo said she enjoys the new store’s ability to price match with Amazon.
KSC junior Benjamin Buckley was not quite satisfied with his visit to the bookstore.
“The organization needs to be better,” he said. Buckley had trouble finding some of his books.
He said he wandered around for a while to find a book for his Holocaust and genocide studies class. He eventually found it, but it was in the wrong section.
Buckley was also disappointed with the store’s art supplies section.
“It didn’t seem like they had a lot of [art] supplies,” he said. He was unable to find a canvas that he needed.
One thing that Buckley was impressed with was the bookstore’s absorption of the Owl’s Roost, Keene State’s old convenience store.
“Anything was better than what we had,” he said.
He said the Owl’s Roost was too expensive and sometimes had expired snacks.
Buckley said he thinks that the food in the new bookstore is better priced and it has a better variety of items.
The KSC Bookstore under B&NC tenure has just begun. If students need any textbooks, they will be able to find them on the first floor of the student center.
Alex Fleming can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org