After 23 years, students accustomed to the convenience of campus bookstore Michigan Book & Supply will soon need to find a new venue to purchase their materials for school.
The Nebraska Book Company — which owns more than 280 college book stores across the country — announced that it would close 38 of its stores, including Michigan Book & Supply, located on the corner of South State Street and North University Avenue, by March 31. Ulrich’s Bookstore on South University Avenue, which the company also owns, will remain open.
Barry Major, the president of Nebraska Book Company, said in a press release the company hopes that the store closings will alleviate its current financial woes.
“The Chapter 11 process allows us to initiate store closings if it will improve our overall financial performance; this decision does indeed improve our financial outlook,” Major said in the release.
With the advent of online textbook retailers, Major said the physical bookstore is no longer a practical business model. He noted that the company’s sales were largely generated through online sales and faced competition with stores like the more centrally located Barnes & Noble store in the Michigan Union.
“Students shopped either for online rentals or at the on-campus store which was beginning to offer a rental program,” Major said. “Even though our on-campus stores and our other divisions performed reasonably well, our financial performance as a whole missed our target due to the performance of our off-campus stores, which led us to make some difficult decisions.”
Though Michigan Book & Supply appears when searched online, the website address is currently redirected to the Ulrich’s site.
University alum Kevin Kielczewski, student manager at the neighboring Michigan apparel store All About Blue, said his store would likely gain the customers lost from Michigan Book & Supply, which also sells collegiate attire.
“Being another Michigan memorabilia store, we will probably have less competition,” Kielczewski said. “As a former English major, though, I am saddened that we are losing the store because of everything going digital.”
When he was a student, Kielczewski said he bought his books from Michigan Book & Supply, but admits that now he would rather purchase books at a cheaper price online.
“These stores can’t compete with the price,” Kielczewski said. “When you can get the same books online for half the price, or at the cost of a rental, people are going to buy the cheaper books that they can keep.”
While shopping at a store-closing sale at Michigan Book & Supply, students expressed their mixed feelings about the store’s closing.
“I buy my books online, but I buy a lot of notebooks and clothes here,” LSA junior Lisa Usselman said. “I’m not upset right now because everything is 75 percent off, but I’m sure when the store is gone, I’m going to have a harder time finding the supplies I need.”
LSA senior Brittany Burr also expressed disappointment about the loss of options for shopping near campus.
“I buy most of my books online, but I come here for all my art supplies,” Burr said. “There is a place on North Campus, but it is really far away and inconvenient.”
With the departure of Michigan Book & Supply, Ulrich’s will hold ground as the only off-campus bookstore, while Barnes & Noble continues to maintain an on-campus bookstore in the Union.