A picture from outside Shop Red West in 2016. Barnes & Noble will be the official campus bookstore and provider as of Oct. 22. STATESMAN FILE

Stony Brook University has partnered with Barnes & Noble to make it the official campus bookstore and store provider as of Oct. 22, bringing students new opportunities.

Over the summer, Stony Brook held a national competitive bid process searching for a new campus bookstore provider. According to Angela Agnello, the director of marketing and communications for the Faculty Student Association (FSA), the rapid change of the current retail environment and textbook market to an online space made it necessary to find more online options for students.

“Barnes & Noble College stood out as a partner that would offer a better program, and expand opportunities for students to save on their overall costs of course materials, including textbook rentals,” Agnello wrote.

Barnes & Noble replaced Follett, which had been the university’s campus bookstore and store provider since March 2018. 

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Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC is an operator of over a thousand college bookstores throughout the United States. According to Agnello, they have initialized a “next-generation” eCommerce platform that will provide a customized and focused digital experience for users, including a new mobile app. It will consist of  curbside pick-up, e-gift cards, a rewards program and a short message service (SMS) — which will send push notifications about orders and any promotions. There will also be point-of-sale technology where the app can accept customers’ payments and keep track of sales.

After registering for classes, students can order new, used, rental and e-books, as well as Stony Brook clothing and other merchandise through sbushopred.com. Items can be shipped to students’ homes, residents halls or Shop Red West in the Melville Library for in-store pick-up.

Agnello said that Barnes & Noble College has a student employment program in which students from Stony Brook University will get the chance to get real-work job experience in retail. The program is also a way for students to earn income to help pay for tuition, fees, textbooks and other school supplies.

The student employment program gives participants the chance to enroll in the Barnes and Noble College Bestseller Program. It is a management development program available to students employed at Shop Red West for at least three months. The students who partake in the program receive hands-on leadership, management, business and retail operations training to prepare them for a management-level spot at one of Barnes and Noble College’s stores across the country.

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Cynthia Cameron, the current Shop Red West store manager, went through the Bestseller Program as a student.

“As a Bestseller, I provided feedback during vendor meetings based on my experience as a student at the college and an employee of the store,” Cameron said. “From product selection, graphic choice, color, sizing, to the displaying of merchandise, I found myself immersed in this area of business.”

Cameron described her experience as a “fast-track to being a member of the management team.” It gives students real-life experience in a managerial position and it prepares them to go right into a supervisory role after completing the program.

“After I obtained my degree, it was nice to know I was already one step ahead of my graduating class by being employed at a great company that recognized my budding talent,” Cameron said. “Twenty years later, I am now a part of a great team of managers responsible for recognizing, educating and empowering future booksellers.”

The partnership between Stony Brook and Barnes & Noble will open up students’ opportunities and give them an advantage in the real world.

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“The FSA and the Stony Brook evaluation committee selected a vendor to ensure that they would improve course material accessibility, pricing and delivery, proactively communicate with faculty, improve the student life experience and provide exceptional customer service to the campus community,” Agnello wrote.

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