As colleges and universities continue a trend toward leasing campus bookstores to large chain operators, the National Association of College Stores is launching an initiative to help independent stores keep their place in the market.
With major market shifts challenging its members, the National Association of College Stores has launched a new initiative to boost independent campus stores at a time when many colleges and universities are turning their stores over to large chain retailers like Barnes & Noble.
NACS’s IndiCo initiative, launched this week, is a collaborative effort of indie stores, digital textbook publishers, and corporate partners that will help expand college stores’ business models to rely less on revenue from traditional textbooks, Inside Higher Ed reported. Previously a consulting service for NACS members, IndiCo will offer a much wider array of services, including assistance with point-of-service offerings, staff training, inventory, and even store design.
Among a wide variety of industry partners that have signed onto the initiative is one surprise: Amazon will provide members with books at wholesale prices—a unique offering from the online retailer.
The move comes at a time when independent college stores are struggling to compete with large chains. Such bookstores are losing their university leases at a rate of 7 to 10 percent each year, according to Inside Higher Ed.
In comments at the annual Campus Market Expo tradeshow this week, where the initiative was announced, NACS CEO Robert Walton spoke defiantly about the place of independent stores in college education.
“We’re expecting a bare-knuckle fight with [chain store operator] Follett and Barnes & Noble,” Walton said. “If a university goes out to bid to run its store, we’re going to respond just like a commercial supplier would. We’re going to try to push Follett and Barnes & Noble back, with the goal of keeping more of the money with the institutions.“