This article by Phil Wahba originally appeared on The Huffington Post on 5/8/14.
NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (Reuters) – Barnes & Noble Inc is turning to its college roots to boost its top line.
The U.S. bookseller, which opened in 1965 as a university bookstore in New York, wants a much bigger presence on college campuses, where students last year spent an average of $1,200 on textbooks and supplies, according to the College Board.
Barnes & Noble, now the second largest operator of college bookstores with 696 shops, plans to have about 1,000 locations within five years, Max Roberts, chief executive of the company’s college business, said in an exclusive interview at Rutgers University’s bookstore in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
It intends to do that by getting more schools to outsource their bookstore operations with the lure of nicer, higher-grossing stores and by poaching accounts from larger rival Follett Corp, which runs 940 stores.
Success isn’t a slam dunk: About 45 percent of U.S. colleges still run their own stores. And overall college store sales have stagnated in recent years at about $10 billion, according to the National Association of College Stores.