New Bookstore Deal Guarantees Pasadena City College $950,000 for First Year of Outsourced Management

Published : Monday, March 19, 2018 | 5:44 AM

Book Store

Pasadena City College has signed a deal with privately-owned Follett Higher Education Services to outsource the management of the college’s bookstore in exchange for a $750,000 annual fee for the next five years, a story in the PCC Courier, the college’s official student newspaper, said Wednesday.

The report said the PCC Board of Trustees approved the contract during its February 22 session..

PCC Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien said the deal will greatly benefit students.

“The purpose of a bookstore is to provide services where students can pay significantly lower rates, can lease textbooks, can purchase cheaper textbooks, or may not even have to purchase textbooks due to open educational resources that exist today,” Vurdien said.

Alex Boekelheide, Executive Director of the PCC Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing, said the deal is “substantial news” for PCC students.

“The best way to characterize this is we are contracting with an outside provider, a third party. to basically operate our bookstore,” Boekelheide said. “It’s going to mean additional access to online educational resources and book rentals which we’re not able to currently provide, and a different approach to the bookstore operations we have here at PCC.”

PCC said the agreement will also mean price matching for the lowest price for students, year-round buybacks and scholarships.

Follett is expected to leverage its bulk purchasing agreements with publishers and retail experience to reduce operational cost that would lead to cheaper supplies for students, while increasing the bookstore’s profits, the report said. Follett will also be offering textbook rentals and a large inventory of open educational resources that faculty can adapt to reduce the cost of books for students.

The report quotes an internal memo released to PCC staff saying fees from the bookstore lease will continue to be allocated to the Student Activity Fund, as well as to fund the college’s general fund.

“In the first year, the college will receive $950,000 guaranteed payment from the company (Follett) that we are moving forward with,” Richard Storti, PCC Vice President of Business and Administration Services, told the PCC Courier.

First year fees include a $200,000 signing bonus. In years two through five, the minimum lease fee is set to $750,000. Over the past few years under PCC management, the bookstore has brought in an annual profit of around $100,000 to $200,000.

Follett is set to spend about $200,000 to remodel the bookstore’s retail space in the first year.

Boekelheide said Follett would be set to take over management of the bookstore by mid-May.

“We’re very excited that what this is going to do is offer new ways for students to get access to their books in a way that’s going to be much lighter on their pocketbook,” he added.

On its website, Follett says it serves over half of the students in the United States and works with 80,000 schools as a leading provider of education technology, services and print and digital content.

“We’re higher education’s largest campus retailer and a hub for school spirit and community as we operate nearly 1,200 local campus stores and over 1,600 virtual stores across the continent,” the company website said.

Follett has current bookstore management agreements with Stanford University, University of California Berkeley and the University of Southern California, among other schools.

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