Campus bookstore reinvents itself as town square

Falling sales spur facility redesigns

In response to falling course material sales, campus bookstores are getting makeovers that emphasize technology, social space, dining, and apparel,

For the last decade, course material sales have been on the decline, according to the National Association of College Stores (NACS). To offset this loss, many universities have revamped their bookstores as campus hubs, Fast Company reports.

The evolution of campus bookstores

Popular features include performance spaces, coffeehouses, tech support, reading rooms, and cafes.

At an increasing number of "bookstores," the actual books take a backseat. The University of California at San Diego rolls out books to a "flexible space" during peak selling season—otherwise, the area is dedicated to events.

Arizona State University's Sun Devil Campus Marketplace at College Avenue Commons does not even house books—instead students order online and pick them up in-store.

Marketplace merchandises a range of ASU apparel, general goods, and specialty items. Retail pavilions scattered throughout give students easy access to products from companies such as Apple. Other features include a community room used for meetings, wedding receptions, and game-day screenings; tech support; dining options; and a convenience store.

The new spaces are designed to drive student engagement. And in addition to boosting sales, "long-term studies show students who are highly engaged and connected to their college or university are more likely to perform better and persist to graduation," says Tony Ellis, VP of industry advancement at NACS (Glover/Silverberg, Fast Company, 10/22).


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