Corner Bookstore to close this semester

Online retailers drove Corner icon out of business, Kelm said

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After 20 years of business, the Student Book Store on the Corner will be closing this semester. Competition from online vendors has forced the bookstore to shut its doors, manager John Kelm said.

After 20 years of business, the Student Book Store on the Corner will be closing this semester. Competition from online vendors has forced the bookstore to shut its doors, manager John Kelm said.

Kelm returned to the store as manager six months ago, after a decade-long absence, in a last-ditch attempt to turn things around and prevent the store from going out of business. Kelm realized by August the bookstore wouldn’t be able to rebound. The decision to shut down was finalized last November, and the subsequent months have seen significant price cuts as the store tries to clear its inventory.

Kelm said there is now far less foot traffic than there was in 2003.

“Lines would be back to the stairs and an additional four or five registers would have to be set up [for the beginning of classes],” Kelm said. “[Back then] you couldn’t walk from one end of the basement to the other because there were so many books.”

Things started to change four or five years ago, however, as sites like Amazon and eBay grew in popularity, making it increasingly convenient for students to order textbooks online and unnecessary for them to browse for books on shelves.

Bookstores around the country are struggling to stay solvent as a result and often are left only with the option of closure. Most notable was the case of Borders, a national bookstore chain that went under in 2011.

Although the trend of online book shopping has its conveniences, it also comes with some costs.

“When I heard the bookstore was going out of business I was disappointed,” first-year College student Chris Porter said. “It made me feel a little bad for getting most of my books online … There’s something special about a local bookstore.”

Furthermore, the closure of the store means one fewer venue where students can seek work. The bookstore frequently hired University students, Kelm said.

Though the bookstore was ultimately unable to remain solvent, Kelm said he was glad he had the opportunity to run the store for these past six months. In its final message to the University community, the bookstore prominently displayed “Thank You ‘Hoos!” on its website.


Published January 19, 2014 in FP test, News





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