Some students worried about Barnes & Noble takeover of UNC bookstores

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – For the first time in a century, the University of North Carolina is outsourcing its student book store.

The school has announced that Barnes & Noble is taking it over on July 1.

One worker, Puja Patel, is nervous about the change in management.

“It just makes the future of student stores very different and uncertain,” said Patel.

Patel is a junior at UNC and works at the campus bookstore. This is her first job and when she accepted it at the start of the school year, she had planned to keep it until she graduated.

“That was the plan,” Patel said. “But I’m not sure if I get to keep my job or not.”

Patel said she and her co-workers found out in an email Thursday about the changes. It’s a 10-year agreement worth $30 million. According to the university, full-time workers are promised a job for three years and Barnes & Noble plans on hiring the same number of students at the same pay they make now.

“We wanted to make sure any transition provided jobs for all of them if possible, and guaranteed employment,” said Brad Ives, a vice chancellor at the university.

CBS North Carolina asked those in charge of this decision about the concerns of current employees.

“When it comes down to an announcement, it’s tough,” said Ives. “No one likes to hear that their job is going to change. Even if people are parking in the same parking spot, walking into the same building, doing the same job, knowing that they’ve got a new boss is unsettling.”

In addition to promising jobs, the agreement with the university will give students a 10 percent discount on books and price-match with other companies, renovate the store, and update the current bookstore’s website. Ives believes bringing in a private company was the right decision.

“Our core competency isn’t figuring out what the textbook/tradebook market is going to be like globally,” he said. “As a result of that, it’s better to partner with somebody that you think can uphold the values of your university, while bringing national expertise and experience from other stores.

Patel sees things differently.

“Changing to a private company just kind of takes a lot away from the university,” she said.

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