Thursday, January 29, 2009

Follett Ends Trade Store Experiment

by Edward Nawotka -- Publishers Weekly, 1/12/2009 12:13:00 PM

After nearly three years in business, Intellectual Property, a stand-alone trade bookstore operated by Follett in Austin, Texas, will close in March. The 6,000, sq-ft. bookstore opened in 2006 across from the campus of the University of Texas and exclusively sold trade books, academic titles, and sidelines, but no textbooks.

Initially, Follett discussed the possibility of using Intellectual Property and its branding as a prototype for future trade stores, though no subsequent locations were opened.

Follett was recruited by the University to open the store after a Barnes & Noble on the same street closed the previous year. The University paid Intellectual Property an annual subsidy of $75,000 for it to host events for UT professors and sell books on campus. The decision to close comes as the store’s lease comes up for renewal.“Unfortunately, foot traffic wasn’t what we expected it to be and we were never able to sell enough volume in that location,” said Follett spokesperson Elio DiStaola. “We struggled to make our sales goals.”

DiStaola admitted that the off-campus location may have been a factor – the University of Texas is some 40 acres in size. “As a company that manages 800 or so college stores, I can tell you there’s a big difference between being at the center of campus and not” He added, “There are so many place for people to buy books now and in this financial environment, it made no sense to keep this one open.”

The store currently employs eight people; manager, Chris Murray, is transferring across Austin to manage the Follett bookstore at Huston-Tillotson University.

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