Austin college moves to online-only bookstore


Associated Press

Posted on September 2, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 2 at 11:32 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A historically black college in Austin has closed its campus bookstore and will only sell books and course materials online.

After years of sagging book sales due to the rise of electronic books and cheaper books available online, Huston-Tillotson University closed its campus bookstore in June, the Austin American Statesman reported Sunday .

Now, instead of stacks of books and long lines of students, there's simply an empty space in the student union where the bookstore used to be.

Over the summer, the university began an agreement with an online textbook provider that established a "virtual bookstore" for the campus.

The new online store offers books by class and allows students clicking on a particular course to see a list of required books. Also offered are costs to buy the books new and used, as well as rent them or buy them as e-books.

"Students have been purchasing their books online for a while now, so we're giving students what they've been doing all along," Linda Jackson, a university spokeswoman, told the newspaper.

Jackson said that since the beginning of the school year Aug. 26, the site has processed about 270 book orders.

The new virtual bookstore means Huston-Tillotson no longer has to secure a book vendor — a taller order now since two vendors left the school in the past five years after failing to profit.

Some students, though, have complained that a delivery time of two to five days for most of the books they order online is too long to wait after previously simply walking across campus and buying a book immediately.

Others remember the physical bookstore fondly, not because of the books it sold but because of school T-shirts and other memorabilia offered and as a campus social hub.

Still, Helen Rios, a Huston-Tillotson senior, said she "blew $500" at the campus bookstore her freshmen year. Ever since, she has relied on online retailers and she's now ready to try the virtual bookstore.

"I'm going to compare and see," Rios said, "but if not, I'll just go back to where I usually buy."


Information from: Austin American-Statesman,