Follett gets the boot: bookstore to close


via Gunter Kleist

Northern Vermont University is changing bookstore providers. The previous provider, Follett, was generally disliked by students and faculty alike. The new provider, eCampus, will be active in time for the Summer 2022 semester for NVU.

“I think we were looking for a better solution across both campuses, says Dean of Administration Roy Brock, “that really gave us the option to help both save money for the students, but to also integrate a better customer service system so that we can address issues and concerns in a faster manner. We had found there were some customer service and just general outreach issues we were having when students would have issues or faculty would have issues when they placed orders for books, and when they would come in, and finally our timelines. We just knew there was probably a better solution out there for us than the one we currently had.”

The solutions that eCampus offers will create a considerable shift in the way that NVU handles its textbook services. “It’s also about making things easier for the faculty and students,” says Brock. “Having better systems in general where we can go in and adopt textbooks, order textbooks, and it’d be very clear what’s for students, what their classes are. It’s really a solution that can work across the two campuses seamlessly, rather than the two different ways we were doing it before.”

The new provider offers a slew of improvements to the book buying system for students on campus, and these differences should be felt immediately. “The biggest things will be cost savings,” says Brock. “They not only offer the traditional rental, new purchase, used purchase, but they also offer an online marketplace. An example would be just like Amazon, and they actually use Amazon as one of their marketplace groups, so that students can actually purchase books in multiple ways that they’ve not had before. I know that’s one of the good solutions for the students as far as that savings piece. It allows them to be able to look up their own account information without having to call someone in the front office or in the business office to say ‘hey, how much have I spent here? How much have I done with this?’ They can actually look up their own orders at any given time and not have to go to someone else to look that up for students on the faculty side.”

Faculty can expect a new and improved experience on their end as well. The online marketplace that eCampus provides will significantly change the way that professors find and order their books. “Their system is called FAST and it’s really just the faculty adoption system,” says Brock. “It not only allows our faculty to only see the classes that they have under them at the university; it also gives them suggestions on textbooks that others use across the country for similar classes, so it gives them some research capability, as well as some ability to understand what the prices are going to be for the students when they’re making selections for books and materials.”

eCampus has a strong reputation for delivering positive textbook-buying experiences and is used by many schools including Syracuse, several University of Wisconsin campuses, and even the Community College of Vermont.

There is one major difference between the two providers that will be impossible to overlook. In an email sent to the entire campus, Brock states, “With this switch comes news that I know will be disappointing, the closure of the brick and mortar store on the Johnson campus. In its place will be NVU swag cabinets on both campuses where items can be scanned, paid for, and shipped. Additionally, a full-service 24/7 online bookstore will be launched.”

While the physical location will cease to be, students will still be able to purchase NVU-branded clothing and apparel via the internet. As the merger progresses, big changes will continue to present themselves as NVU shifts into VSU. This shift is one of many still to come.