Bookstores at small colleges feeling pinched

The Huston-Tillotson bookstore will temporarily close its doors and clear its shelves in a few weeks while the university searches for a new vendor to run it, reports. Follett, the vendor that operates the bookstore now, plans to pull out June 12, saying the business is not profitable. Follett is the second vendor to leave in the past five years citing money troubles. Other Austin-area campus bookstores also report feeling a pinch, which they attribute to some of the same market pressures that have caused independent booksellers across the nation to struggle in recent years. Huston-Tillotson spokeswoman Linda Jackson said the bookstore’s troubles have been caused by several things: The school’s small population — it has about 1,000 students — as well as new federal regulations on textbook affordability and the availability of electronic textbooks. … Russell Johnson studied business management at Huston-Tillotson and graduated in May. Johnson worked at the bookstore for about a year and said the closure doesn’t surprise him. It’s expensive, said Johnson, who remembers spending $800 there one year when he started upper-level business courses. After students have been on campus for a few years they usually opt to rent their books or buy cheaper online, he said.

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