By Zainab Iqbal
Published: March 22nd, 2017
Tucked in the basement of Boylan Hall lives a 21-year-old campus bookstore—patiently awaiting its shutdown on June 30.
According to Jason Carey, the assistant vice president of marketing, communications, and public relations, “Sales volume in the old bookstore was declining significantly. Many colleges are moving to ‘virtual’ because brick-and-mortar stores are used less and less to buy books.”
After John Jay successfully established a virtual bookstore, CUNY pushed forward a Request for Proposal for Brooklyn College in the spring of 2016. An RFP essentially puts forward what the college is looking for and outlines what the vendors should be able to do. Vendors can then respond and are vetted afterwards.
During the selection process, Akademos won.
According to their website, Akademos is “a full-service online solution that delivers huge savings on textbooks and other course materials while providing administrators and faculty with critical control over the process.”
“The RFP yielded a number of vendors and, after initial presentations, a select group was asked to make finals presentations,” said Bill Tramontano, a member of the CUNY Committee that was charged with selecting the online bookstore vendor. To grade each vendor, CUNY used a scoring process.
“Many different parameters were considered, including the cost of new texts, used texts, rental texts, on-line texts, buyback policy, resale, distribution model, etc.,” Tramontano said. “Akademos was selected as a result of that process.”
Contrary to what many students believe, Akademos doesn’t just provide online versions of textbooks. Like any other bookstore, students will also have the option to purchase a physical copy of the book—they would just have to order it online.
For future graduates who want to purchase their gowns, Brooklyn College will issue an RFP for services such as that, and Akademos or other vendors would be able to respond.
“Having the college bookstore online will cut off people from work, which is really sad considering there are a lot of people who need jobs,” said Brooklyn College sophomore Gavhar Hushvaktova. “It would be helpful cutting budgets, but its going to be a real pain waiting for your textbooks when you need them as soon as possible for classes.”
Those who work at the current bookstore are employed not by CUNY, but by Barnes and Noble. According to Carey, what happens to these employees is “up to Barnes and Noble. They could be moved within the company.”
The store manager denied to comment, and the regional manager was unable to be reached. However, one of the employees recently let go said, “We weren’t warned, and now we’re all out of jobs.”
The future of the space occupied by the current bookstore has many students wondering, what will now be tucked in the basement of Boylan Hall? According to Brooklyn College, “ideas will be solicited from all members of the community including students and faculty.”
“Maybe they should replace it with another computer, printing area,” Hushvaktova said. “It’s really hard and annoying to have to travel to certain buildings to do printing jobs for classes and scholarships.”
Though the future of Akademos remains unclear, the online system will be launched during the spring, and students will be able to purchase books for Summer Session II and the Fall Semester using Akademos.
Students may have seen the “50 percent off” sale signs at the bookstore, but as of yet there has not been an official announcement that the bookstore will be closing. According to Carey, the college will be issuing this announcement shortly.