Vanderbilt University has entered into an agreement with Barnes & Noble to relocate the university’s bookstore to the corner of 25th Avenue and West End Avenue where it will be operated by the national book retailer at the location of the recently-shuttered Borders.
The store will offer books and materials for a general audience as well as typical campus bookstore items.
The existing Vanderbilt bookstore will continue to operate in Rand Hall on campus until the relocation.
“A strong and thriving bookstore where a campus community can easily gather for literary and intellectual offerings is critically important to a university,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “This new location and partnership give us an even greater opportunity to advance our academic mission for the campus and the larger Nashville community.”
The lack of a major bookstore in the area was a consideration in the decision, but Richard McCarty, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the location is advantageous to town and gown.
“It will be well positioned for the community and add quality to the campus,” he said.
The university said the partnership and move will provide more parking for the school bookstore - a limited commodity at the Rand Hall location. It will also allow the store to be open longer hours and provides an opportunity for Vanderbilt's sports fans to buy licensed apparel before events at neighboring Dudley Field or Memorial Gym.
In addition to the items customers would expect to find at other Barnes & Noble retail outlets, the new bookstore will offer Vanderbilt textbooks, course materials, apparel and other university items. A café will also be housed in the store. McCarty said the new location makes possible the scheduling of authors’ nights and other kinds of programming that the limited Rand space cannot accommodate.
Through Barnes & Noble College, a wholly owned subsidiary, Barnes & Noble operates more than 630 campus bookstores across the United States for such institutions as Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University and Georgia Tech.
“We're honored to have formed this new partnership with Vanderbilt University and look forward to bringing them what’s next in educational content and retailing excellence,” said Max J. Roberts, president, Barnes & Noble College. “Our commitment to driving innovation, delivering advanced technology, understanding what students need and supporting the needs of higher education will help us to transform the Vanderbilt bookstore into a robust and vital part of the university and the surrounding greater West End community.”
The future use of the Rand Hall space that is being vacated has not yet been determined.
“This is prime space, right in the heart of campus,” McCarty said. “Our hope is to engage student leaders as well as staff in deciding the best use of that space.”
Possibilities include expansion of the dining space as well as additional social and meeting space for students, but no decision is expected until after the start of the school year in August. “We pledged to Vanderbilt Student Government that no hard decision would be made until students get back and we can convene a committee,” McCarty said.
With Borders and Davis-Kidd both closing, the lack of big-box bookstores has shifted the burden to independent sellers.