Though UNC Student Stores has kept its 100-year-old name, much has changed inside since Barnes & Noble took control. Registers have moved, new faces have smiled from above new name tags and familiar faces have moved on.
The privatization process began with an unsolicited request in July 2015 from Follett to lease the Student Stores. This board has discussed at length the swift and opaque nature of the decision.
As we say goodbye to what we loved about Student Stores, we must hold Barnes & Noble accountable to its promises. Indeed, the differences between the rhetoric and actuality of privatization are already coming to light.
One of this board’s favorite parts of the Student Stores, the Bull’s Head Bookshop, has seen massive shifts in stock and employees. It seems that Barnes & Noble has kept its promise of adding thousands of new titles. But by adding thousands of copies of the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook and pseudo-scientific self-improvement books, Barnes & Noble is turning its back on the academic nature of Bull’s Head, something important in a college campus bookstore. Because Barnes & Noble predetermines display table selections for all its bookstores, thought-provoking and critical texts have been swapped for whatever books best sell, regardless of educational value.
We understand the need to generate a revenue source for student scholarships, which Barnes & Noble has promised to increase. We just miss when that revenue came from finger puppets of our favorite historical thinkers.