Kevin V Nguyen
For the first time in school history, the De Anza College bookstore will transition from in-house ownership to the use of third party services offered by Follett Higher Education.
Long-standing access to critical opportunities such as student employment and affordable classroom resources will remain available in the new system, and the new company will be fully established when the physical store reopens for business.
Follett has a 140 year history as a campus store provider, serving over 1, 100 schools across the country. Their website states that they emphasize low-cost, accessible materials, and includes informative links to several of their affordability programs.
Nearby, schools such as Foothill College, San Jose State, Evergreen Valley and Ohlone College are among the growing number of schools the company already serves.
De Anza bookstore coordinator Jayme Brown, who’s held the position since 2018, said that she expects the transition to go smoothly with most changes taking place behind the scenes.
“It’s a pretty straightforward website for ordering books,” Brown said. “So I don’t think it’ll be too much of a learning curve.”
Brown also said that once the bookstore physically reopens, it will still be hiring student employees, including international students. Because the physical location will remain on-site, the regulations on international student employment will still allow them to work there.
Duyen Nguyen, 19, accounting and finance major and former bookstore employee, said that she recalled working under old management to be “really peaceful,” but that she had to quit her job because of the pandemic.
Nguyen said that she intends to return to the bookstore to work after the transfer, and has already applied for a position under Follett’s management. However, she said that she worries about whether she’ll get the job.
“I think their hiring process may be more strict,” Nguyen said. “They’re a big company with a large system and a lot of employees, so they need to be.”
In addition to providing students with employment opportunities, the bookstore had been a well-established way for faculty to select affordable materials for their classes. The De Anza website states that the college is a leading user of OER, or Open Educational Resources, which exist to make college more affordable for students. This option will continue to be available after the bookstore changes hands.
Professors who elect to be part of this program can fill out a survey to mark their classes as affordable in the class finder. Classes marked “LCT,” or “low cost textbook,” use course materials that cost less than $50, and classes marked “ZCT,” or “zero cost textbook,” only use freely available digital resources.
For faculty with experience using “OER” for their classes with the original bookstore, Follett will continue to meet their needs. Students will be able to access OER materials through the new bookstore’s system, and the Follett website emphasizes the company’s affordability programs.
Mark Healy, chair of psychology at De Anza and the faculty OER coordinator, said that he is optimistic about the situation, and reassures students that all of the low-cost materials instructors were already using will remain accessible.
Despite this, Healy said he has a few concerns for how the bookstore will perform once the physical location reopens.
“College bookstores aren’t a growth industry,” Healy said. “How well the management and marketing adapts to the school’s needs will really determine how well they do.”
He pointed out some of the non-academic items sold by the original bookstore, like t-shirts and memorabilia, and said that marketing to the student body’s unique tastes will influence the new store management’s success.
“Everything comes down to management,” he said. “Good management will make this a great success.”
Follet’s new website for the De Anza Campus store can be found here. Limited in-person services will resume beginning Dec. 6.