Barnes & Noble College to operate UNT bookstore

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Barnes & Noble College will begin operating the University of North Texas bookstore in August as part of a new 12-year contract worth an estimated $20 million.

As part of the contract, Barnes & Noble College will provide and construct an interim bookstore facility while the new UNT Union is under construction. Barnes & Noble College will occupy and pay for 28,500 square feet in the new student union.

The contract was approved Thursday by the Board of Regents and will be in effect from Aug. 8 through June 30, 2025, and automatically renew from year to year unless one of the parties decides to terminate it sooner.

“Our hope is that we maintain the level of service that we expect in the bookstore, and we also think the Barnes & Noble name will be a draw for our students — an appeal to our students — and the community as well,” said Elizabeth With, vice president of student affairs.

Until the new student union is built, the bookstore will be housed in a temporary structure at the corner of Avenue C and Chestnut Street, With said.

Barnes & Noble College will replace Follett Corp., which took over operations in 1995 from the university. Both companies submitted proposals to operate the bookstore, and the proposals were analyzed by a committee of several university officials.

Andrew Harris, vice president of finance and administration, told the Board of Regents that the committee wanted the successful bidder to agree to run a temporary facility and then enter a full contract for 10 years once the new union opens as well as specific terms regarding operations.

“We insisted that there be a rental option for students, a book buy-back program, that they have a good discount offering for faculty and alumni with appropriate terms, and there was a vendor selection that we thought best met the needs of our students,” Harris said at Thursday’s meeting. “And when all is said and done, we determined that, for the next stage, we wanted to go with Barnes & Noble.”

With said she wanted to see what Barnes & Noble College would be able to offer students.

“A bookstore is integral to a college campus because of the textbooks and supplies,” she said. “It’s very important to UNT and what we offer.”

Harris said that he recognizes the changing landscape of the book industry and that more digital trends are emerging. After questions from regents about the viability of a physical bookstore, Harris said the store will reflect these trends and adjust accordingly.

“It’s not going to be racks and racks of books. There’s going to be technology, obviously, emblematic gear, class rings, energy drinks, a number of things,” he said. “So as the market changes, these providers are going to adapt or they’re going to die, and someone else will be there to fill the space.”

Over the life of the contract, Harris estimated the university would receive about $20 million, with terms outlined in the board briefing.

During the first year of operation, Barnes & Noble College will pay UNT $800,000 or 8.4 percent of gross sales up to $8 million and 10.5 percent of sales above $8 million, whichever is greater.

For the second year, the option of an $800,000 payment will be replaced by the figure representing 90 percent of the calculated commission on gross sales of the previous year. Barnes & Noble College will again give UNT a payment for whichever amount is greater.

Once the new facility begins operation in the student union, the greater amount of $1.1 million or 12.5 percent of all gross sales up to $8 million and 14.1 percent of gross sales more than $8 million will be paid to the university.

After the first year in the new building, Barnes & Noble College will pay UNT either 90 percent of the calculated commission on gross sales of the previous year or 12.5 percent of all gross sales up to $8 million and 14.1 percent of gross sales more than $8 million.

Additionally, Barnes & Noble College will make an annual donation of $55,000 “to be utilized at the sole discretion of UNT,” according to the board briefing.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.

 


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