GCC inks deal with bookstore management company

Glendale Community College has inked a deal to hand over the management of its student bookstore to a private company.

Under the contract, approved unanimously by trustees at their meeting Monday, Follett Higher Education Group Inc. will pay the college a commission based on a percentage of gross annual sales — 12.4% of revenue up to $4 million, and 13.4% of revenue in excess of $4 million, said Ron Nakasone, vice president of administrative services.

Follett is one of the biggest names in the business, operating more than 900 college bookstores, including 300 at community colleges across the nation, Dean of Student Affairs Paul Schlossman said.

The company has the strength and stability needed to compete in a challenging higher-education market, he added.

“We feel very strongly that Follett has the capacity to offer superior services and more affordable products to our students,” Schlossman said.

The money generated will go directly to the student government organization, Associated Students of Glendale Community College, to help fund its programming, including more than 50 campus clubs.

The student bookstore, which includes a 5,329-square-foot retail space on the main campus, as well as a satellite store at the college’s Garfield campus, has been a revenue generator for student government for decades. It is one of just two community college bookstores in the state that continues under the model — the other 120 are operated by the colleges themselves or have been contracted out.

But recently, the revenue stream turned into a revenue drain, with the store losing tens of thousands of dollars in three of the last four years. College officials also felt ill-equipped to reinvent the bookstore amid the digital transition sweeping the publishing industry.

In May, they began exploring the idea of contracting out management responsibilities to a private company. A month-long solicitation period produced bids from some of the biggest players on the scene, but Follett stood out, officials said.

“We were impressed with Follett’s investment in their textbook rental program, enhanced e-commerce initiatives and digital textbooks, areas that represent the future of academic retailing,” Schlossman said.

Six current full-time bookstore employees will keep their jobs, he said.

The agreement was reviewed and OK’d by student government leaders, said Suzanna Sargsyan, president of the Associated Students of Glendale Community College.

Follett management could be in place as early as the start of the spring 2012 semester, college officials said.


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