Barnes amp; Noble damages school character

by Beacon Staff • September 12, 2007

Emerson's on-campus bookstore provides students the convenience of buying their class texbooks locally, but at a price.,Textbooks-a necessity that, in essence, are ink-covered paper sandwiched between plastic-coated card stock-cause students considerable grief.

Emerson's on-campus bookstore provides students the convenience of buying their class texbooks locally, but at a price.

In May 2006, Barnes Noble College Booksellers agreed to a ten-year contract with Emerson on the operation of the school's bookstore.

The precedent set by the commercialization of Emerson property will prove damaging to the college's reputation and to the character of its neighborhood.

In an e-mail interview with The Beacon, Andrew Mahoney, director of business services for Emerson College, wrote that the store "strengthens Emerson's commitment to the city and surrounding community. It was determined Barnes Noble was the only company that could deliver the type of store and level of service that the College was interested in providing its students."

Evidently, this is community development a la Emerson College-a corporate bookstore in the middle of campus.

Neighborhood redevelopment has scarcely meant better profit streams for big business.

It's fair to ask whether the new Barnes Noble-run bookstore is the beginning of a series of commercial establishments on Emerson's expanding campus.

What else is to come? A McDonald's in the Paramount Center? A Store 24 in the Colonial Building?

The identity of Boston's neighborhoods is among the city's greatest assets, and disregard for that identity will only bring headaches and frustration.

For a college whose student body purports to be free-spirited and independent, Emerson's association with Barnes Noble is incongruent at best.

Notice that the Emerson-frequented eatery on Tremont Street is not Subway, but New York Pizza.

Students don't look to hang out at the cafe in Borders on Boylston Street-they prefer the ambiance of the independent Trident Booksellers Cafe on Newbury Street.

If money has to be spent on books, it should not be spent at a faceless corporation.

It is downright idiotic to buy a used book for $70 from Barnes Noble when the student who sold the book to Barnes Noble months before recieved far less for it.

There are a few notable alternatives to buying books at a corporation-controlled bookstore.

Google Product Search yields the best results, returning a list of copies of a book found at online stores.

Bargains on used or sale-priced books can be found on the Internet, and even after shipping, these prices regularly beat Barnes Noble's.

Facebook.com supplies other options, like the user-run Emerson College Book Trade Group, which provides a forum for direct book exchange between students with no commercial intermediary to enact a drastic markup.

Also, the good karma of fostering a business relationship with an independent bookstore can pay dividends.

Owners will give discounts to regular customers.

A discount at Barnes Noble? Don't even ask.

In this country, where many consider their right to vote meaningless, it must be noted-we vote every day.

In a capitalist system, the dollar is the vote, and a dollar spent at a large, personality-lacking store is a vote against what makes Boston a world-class city-its charming variety and old-world appeal.

At the least, picking up one's booklist at Barnes Noble will not deter the advancing tide of the commercialization and standardization of Boston's personality.

Let Boston not fall to the fate of our suburbs, where retail chains bump elbows to score plots in strip malls or shopping centers, and where the "local" place to eat is T.G.I. Friday's or Applebee's.

The convenience of the school bookstore is tempting, but the consequences of its invasion of this campus are undeniable.

Vote for Boston: get your books elsewhere.