The Glendale College Bookstore is going corporate.
The college bookstore is one of the few in the country that is still independently owned and operated by the student government. Other campuses have either completely or partially outsourced to third-party management.
The Associated Students of Glendale Community College (ASGCC) has administrated the bookstore throughout the history of the college but now it too is considering outsourcing management.
The student government is self supporting and cannot depend on the college for financial assistance. Therefore, in an effort to maintain a physical bookstore on campus, the college issued a request for proposal for bookstore management services.
The three contenders are: Follett, which has contracts with more than 900 college stores; a Barnes and Nobles college bookstore subsidiary, with more than 600 stores; and Validis, with more than 250 stores.
“We have broad goals,” said Paul Schlossman, dean of student affairs. “We want better deals and better options for students and faculty, and to preserve bookstore employee jobs and most importantly to remain profitable.”
The proposals from the three bookstore management services went above and beyond the college’s initial expectations. These companies have enormous buying power and the technological expertise to revolutionize the school’s bookstore.
Services will include textbook rental programs (average savings of 50 percent over the cost of a new textbook), increased availability of used textbooks, digital textbooks, E-reader software applications with Blackboard integration and much more.
“I hardly go into the bookstore unless it’s for scantrons,” said GCC sophomore Sarah Acosta, 20, psychology major. “I’ve been buying my textbooks online since I started college but I would definitely prefer renting books on campus for convenience.”
All proposals have agreed to re-hire the eight existing full-time employees.
“Initially, the news was hard to swallow,” said Anjali Stanislaus, GCC bookstore manager of 18 years. “Many of us have been here for a long time and for us this is a home away from home. We enjoy our jobs but are looking forward to the challenge.”
The college will gain annual commission from sales. The percentages vary but profitability is expected.
“We’ve had a net loss of about $150,000 within the last four years,” said Aram Gambourian, vice president of finance for ASGCC. “If we keep this up, the bookstore will close within four years.”
Profits from the bookstore go toward paying off the student center building, which has a remaining balance of $300,000 according to Gambourian.
“New legislation, such as the higher education opportunity act, require the integration of textbook disclosure information with class registration and schedules,” said Schlossman. The budget restraints have made it difficult to meet these expectations.
All of the bookstore management companies will integrate thier version of Peoplesoft to the website. Since the companies already have this software, it will be cost neutral to the college. This will allow students to create a booklist when registering for classes. Students will have the option to purchase the books from the site and have them mailed to their home, or to pick it up on campus at the beginning of the semester.
“This is the best alternative we have and I have no regrets on switching management,” said Gambourian.