As part of a plan to increase college revenues and expand student book offerings, Barnes & Noble College will assume responsibility of Napa Valley College’s bookstore beginning July 1.
The bookstore will be open to students, as well as the general public. Barnes & Noble gift cards can be used for any items in the store — including textbooks.
“This is an opportunity to take the bookstore to the next level,” interim college president Ron Kraft said Thursday.
While the price for new textbooks will likely remain unchanged, Barnes & Noble College will be able to offer students a greater selection of book rentals, used books and digital textbooks.
Renting a textbook or purchasing a used or digital version can save students up to 60 percent off the new book price, said Russell Markman, vice president of campus relations for Barnes & Noble College’s western region.
Barnes & Noble College, a division of America’s largest bookseller, Barnes & Noble Inc., operates more than 700 college and university stores across the nation — approximately 44 of those stores are in California, Markman said.
The Napa Valley College bookstore building, which dates back to the 1960s, will undergo significant renovations under its new management. Among the changes will be new book racks, an upgraded lighting system, wall coverings and carpeting.
The renovations will make the bookstore “comfortable” but also “modern,” Kraft said.
For at least 20 years, Napa Valley College employee Sherry Melton has managed the campus bookstore. When Melton decided to retire this year, it was her recommendation to consider outsourcing management, Kraft said.
Barnes & Noble College and another college bookstore operator — called Follett — submitted proposals. Barnes & Noble was ultimately chosen because of its commitment to keeping the store Napa Valley College-branded, Kraft said.
Although Barnes & Noble is the management piece, the Barnes & Noble brand will basically be invisible, Kraft said.
“It will still feel very much like Napa Valley College’s bookstore, though it will be upgraded significantly,” said Lissa Gibbs, the college’s chief public information officer. “This is not the corporatization of Napa Valley College.”
Copperfield’s, a local independent bookseller, was invited to submit a proposal for bookstore services, but declined. Being in the business of textbook sales requires a different skill set than general book sales, Copperfield’s co-owner Paul Jaffe said.
The Napa Valley College bookstore currently has two employees, both of whom will continue working under the new management. They will remain employees of the college, but Barnes & Noble will provide their salaries and benefits, Kraft said.
Barnes & Noble and Napa Valley College are still in contract negotiations, but the college will be guaranteed to make money from this partnership. The current proposal is for Napa Valley College to receive $175,000 annually, as well as 10 percent of gross sales up to $2 million, Kraft said. Those numbers may be subject to change, he said.
The old campus bookstore was “cost neutral,” and any upgrades or improvements would have cost the college money, Gibbs said. Under this new partnership, Barnes & Noble College assumes the costs of renovating the bookstore, she said.
The Napa Valley College bookstore is currently holding an inventory reduction sale on clothing, backpacks, greeting cards, calendars, electronics and other items until June 26. The bookstore will then close for one to three days before being turned over to Barnes & Noble College management.