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Physical Doors Close, Virtual One's Open

by Dana Hirsch

The Purchase College Bookstore in 2019 (Image via Purchase College Bookstore on Facebook)

A year after moving most Purchase courses online on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, the college bookstore has now closed its doors permanently and has moved fully online.

According to Patrick Savolskis, Executive Director of the Purchase College Association, Purchase decided to make the bookstore 100% virtual, citing reasons such as the move from physical to digital textbooks and while the pandemic contributed to a decline in sales, it alone did not cause the bookstore to close.

“The market for campus bookstores has been on the decline nationally with diminishing profits for several years,” says Savolskis in an email to the campus community. “Our campus bookstore has recorded declining sales for the past five years. [And] [w]e determined that running the bookstore in-house would not be feasible.”

To compensate, the More Store plans to expand its inventory to include art supplies and other items previously available at the bookstore. At the moment, paper for Purchase printmaking courses is available and, according to Savolskis, the focus is on providing supplies which students often need but are not easily available elsewhere.

New and used textbooks will be available for purchase and rental on the Follett website, as well as branded apparel and other items found at the bookstore.

The Bookstore's new permanent location (Screenshot of the site)

“The prices will be the same as what was charged at the bookstore,” says Savolskis. “The pricing will be driven in part by what materials the faculty select. We have reduced our commission on textbook sales to help drive down the price. Any order over $99 would be free shipping.”

Theater and performance senior, Romey Drabek, had been working at the bookstore since the end of her freshman year, took a temporary leave at the end of March 2020 due to the pandemic, and came back this semester to find that the bookstore was set to close by the end of March.

“Now it’s completely closed, there’s nothing in the store at all,” says Drabek. “I don’t know what they’re turning it into, but a few people came in towards the end– to look around, take dimensions, and figure out what they might be able to put in there.”

According to Savolskis, the plan is to repurpose the space to benefit the campus community but details are not yet clear.

“As a theater major [...], I’ve run into issues with rehearsal space which is a very common issue among theater performance kids,” Drabek says. “We could always use more rehearsal space, especially because [the former bookstore] is basically connected to the new Center for Media, Film, and Theatre building. Really, it could be a rehearsal studio or a multipurpose studio, so it could be used by multiple majors.”

According to Drabek, there is a bit of culture that is lost with the move to a fully virtual bookstore and the loss may be especially felt by incoming students and their families. “I think it’s a really nice thing to come in on a tour and just see the bookstore and see all of the merch that they have […] on display,” says Drabek. “It gave a nice space to the campus.”

Students can email to provide feedback and to request class materials to be sold at the More Store.



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