From Physical Shelves to Virtual Carts:  Students Weigh In On the Bookstore’s Closure

Now that Chabot College’s bookstore has transitioned to a new virtual platform, students share their mixed reactions and concerns ranging from accessibility and convenience to nostalgia about all the great things the in-person store used to offer.

Our bookstore was part of one of the many Barnes & Noble Education bookstores. Barnes & Noble Education, or BNED, is a spinoff corporation of the Barnes & Noble Retail bookstores. The company has operated over 700 college-campus bookstores. However, many of these stores are closing and turning virtual due to financial stress, Chabot’s being one of them. 

Now, books are available for purchase online in the new virtual bookstore. An email was sent out in late August to all students with instructions on how to get to the online bookstore, set up an account, and highlights some new features.

I asked students for their initial reaction to hearing about the bookstore closure and got a range of emotions. “I’m sad the bookstore is closing. The staff was always super friendly,” stated Amirah. 

Another student, Saroyah, was not concerned about its closing, “It’s not a huge deal to me, but I hope they turn the space into something productive.”

A concern was raised for our students who don’t have an address. How will they get these books shipped? Since the online bookstore offers no in-store pickup options, a shipping-only model could present a challenge for many. Fortunately, you can have your books delivered to the campus library, which is still open. The address for the library is Chabot College, Attn: Library, 25555 Hesperian Blvd Hayward, CA 94545.

One student made a point about potential issues with certain majors. “[The virtual bookstore] is more convenient for hybrid and online students, but it makes it harder for art students to buy their supplies now,” stated Giselle, an art student at Chabot.

Another concern for others is navigating the new website. For many who loved the bookstore’s welcoming environment and friendly staff, losing that to a website can be disheartening. Not to mention, in-person options are great for those who don’t have easy access to technology or may not be as comfortable using it without help. 

When you first go to the new site, knowing where to start can be a bit overwhelming and difficult. If you are already familiar with the school website, you can search “Bookstore FAQ” and the first link will take you to a page showing you how to set up your account with screenshots as an aid to get you started. The campus library also offers support with the bookstore website if needed.

Navigating a new virtual platform has been a concern for many. A Chabot student agreed with this sentiment saying, “The virtual bookstore is a bit confusing, and I miss the snacks. The search engine isn’t very effective.” 

The online platform also comes with a few logistical hiccups and concerns. Logan, another Chabot student, shared his concerns, “I think it’s inconvenient. I like a place to go to purchase my books [in person], and the online site has a lot of shipping issues. I liked having the option to buy scantrons in person.”

The financial implications of the bookstore’s closure also raise eyebrows. Tyler, another student, pointed out the potential contradiction, “It’s contradictory to use the money from closing the bookstore to use on the library. It’s pretty inconvenient for me, but hopefully, it’s convenient for others.”

While there are still many logistical and technical concerns to be addressed, one thing is clear; the online bookstore will be Chabot’s new normal in an increasingly virtual world. Students will continue to voice their opinions but it remains to be seen how Chabot will address the concerns of their diverse student body. 

Image courtesy of Reign Reynolds

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