UNI gets approval to hire firm to run its bookstore

CEDAR FALLS — The Board of Regents has approved a request by the University of Northern Iowa to hire an outside company to run the campus bookstore in Cedar Falls. UNI’s Michael Hager explained the proposal to hire Follett Higher Education Group.

“Both the publishing industry and the textbook industry have been in turmoil for a number of years and there continues to be disruption for the foreseeable future. Independent stores like UNI cannot bring the resources nor the economies of scale that a large national retailer like Follett can bring to the table,” Hager says.

He also talked about the terms of the deal. “Follett will play the university a commission percentage of all commissionable sales. They’ll provide $10,000 in scholarships for textbooks, and they will invest up to $900,000 in helping to renovate the store,” he says. “This agreement is very similar to the agreement that the board approved in March of 2001 for the University of Iowa with the same company.”

Hager was asked how much commission the school will receive. “We haven’t finalized the contract yet, it’s within the margins that would be expected for a contract like this, and it varies depending on the category,” Hager says. “Course materials are smaller commission than what clothing is for example, to try to keep course materials or textbooks at a lower cost.”

The contract will be for six years and Follett says it is willing to hire all current bookstore employees who want to continue working there.