Following up with Follett

Bye bye Becks. NEIU Bookstore turns a new page.


Photo by Rut Ortiz

Follet is stocking up for the upcoming summer semester.

Students who purchased textbooks from Becks bookstore can look forward to doing business with the newest vendor to occupy the retail space, Follett Higher Education Group.

“We can also apply some of the things that we learned in the other campuses that we’ve managed,” Ken Pegram, regional manager for Follett said. “For example, on the apparel front … we’re able to look at national trends, what’s popular on college campuses all across the country and apply some of those same learning here to what we do here at NEIU.”

Follett will honor transactions on books sold by Becks bookstore according to Pegram who is overseeing the transition and is the point person until a store manager is appointed.

“We will absolutely do a buy back on them,” Pegram said. “The biggest factor in determining the value of a book is whether or not it is being used by a faculty member in an upcoming term.

“We buy back books everyday. For books that are being used in an upcoming term where we have a need, we pay up to 50 percent of the purchase price for it.”

One notable difference between the two vendors is the size of each company and the amount of time each has been in business. Becks bookstore has been in existence for approximately 61 years, with 12 operations varying from on and off-campus stores, high school bookstores and e-commerce bookstores.

“On its most fundamental level, we’re both bookstore operators. We are the largest bookstore operator in North America. We have over 1200 stores that we run,” Pegram said. “We are a family-based company. We’ve been in higher education for 140 years and we’re going to tailor our assortment within the store to the needs of the NEIU community.

“We are very much about understanding what the needs are of a particular campus and responding to that.

“I had an instructor in here this morning, for example, that has a very specific dissection kit that he needs for biology class. We have those things on order.”

Pegram said he anticipates that the store will be at full capacity within 30 days. Students have a variety of means to obtain their books for classes starting the summer semester of 2016.

“We do have textbook rental,” he said. “We have the largest rental program and we will be bringing that to NEIU.

“We also have a price-match program. We’re up and selling right now.”

So how does a student go about renting or purchasing their textbooks from Follett for the summer?

“All they have to do is walk in,” Pegram said. “Right now we have open stacks. We have staff here to facilitate and help the students determine what they want.

“Ideally (a student) will come in with a class schedule and they show us the class schedule and we help them find the materials that they need.”

The way a student can rent books by putting down a credit card as collateral but can pay the rental fee with any other means at the end of the rental period. The rental period extends throughout the end of the term with a grace period of three days.

There is a monetary penalty if the books are returned after the grace period.

Follett will also be coordinating with the university a remodel to the store’s space over the summer. Pegram described this upcoming transformation as “big changes on the horizons.”