U.S.-based group set to take over college bookstore

Red Deer College announced Tuesday the U.S.-based Follett Higher Education Group will manage its campus bookstore operations, starting July 24.

Red Deer College announced Tuesday the U.S.-based Follett Higher Education Group will manage its campus bookstore operations, starting July 24.

“The decision reflects our interest in offering more options for our students while keeping our costs of entering the e-commerce space to a minimum,” RDC president Joel Ward said in a press release.

Follett will offer RDC students textbooks in multiple formats — for download to iPads, laptops, and smart phones, as well as the traditional options of renting or buying new and used books.

RDC’s announcement of the campus bookstore’s planned privatization in March drew the ire of employees, local unions, and students. News the bookstore’s staff were being let go on July 14, as part of the plan, sent members of the Canadian Union of Provincial Employees to the streets, picketing along 32 Street in early April.

RDC said Tuesday that current Bookstore staff would be interviewed by a representative from the new management and may be offered a position at their current salary. Not only will the staff’s years of service be recognized, a comprehensive benefit plan and professional training will be offered to those employees who are kept on, the statement read.

The college fielded bids from Barnes & Noble, Borders and several other American companies, before deciding on Illinois-based Follett, which services five million students and 400,000 faculty members in more than 850 stores across North America.

Follett will spend $500,000 to modernize the RDC College Bookstore — allowing students to use e-commerce systems to order, buy and receive book delivery from their homes. They will also bring in new lines of merchandise, including technology products from Apple; and will be creating a $10,000 textbook scholarship, administered each academic year through the RDC Student Funding and Awards Office.

RDC has created a Bookstore Advisory Committee, made up of students, faculty and staff, that will field public feedback on the Follett-managed bookstore’s customer experience, and will also discuss “new ideas and look for ways to improve services to students.”

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