Vanderbilt, Barnes & Noble to bring bookstore back to West End


The old Borders bookstore on West End Avenue, soon to be converted into a Vanderbilt bookstore run by Barnes & Noble (Steve Green/Vanderbilt)

Vanderbilt University announced today that it has entered into an agreement with Barnes & Noble to relocate the university’s bookstore to the corner of 25th Avenue and West End Avenue where it will be operated by the national book retailer.

This fall the store, which will offer books and materials for a general audience as well as typical campus bookstore items, will open in the space at 2525 West End that formerly housed a Borders bookstore. The Borders closed May 15 as part of the company’s bankruptcy reorganization.

The existing Vanderbilt bookstore will continue to operate in Rand Hall on campus until the relocation.

Benefits for community, campus

“A strong and thriving bookstore where a campus community can easily gather for literary and intellectual offerings is critically important to a university,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “This new location and partnership give us an even greater opportunity to advance our academic mission for the campus and the larger Nashville community.”

The lack of a major bookstore in the area was a consideration in the decision, but Richard McCarty, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, also noted the new bookstore will be contiguous to campus in an area already frequented by students. “It will be well positioned for the community and add quality to the campus,” he said.

Several factors came into play in the university’s decision to relocate the existing bookstore. Because it is in the interior of campus, there is no adjacent and little nearby parking, making it difficult for off-campus patrons to reach. The 2525 West End location has access to a 200-space garage and 100 surface spaces. The Rand bookstore has limited hours of operation; the new one will be open evenings and through the weekend. Because the new store will be near Memorial Gym, Vanderbilt Stadium and other athletic venues, it will be more convenient for sports fans to purchase Vanderbilt apparel.

New opportunities, services

In addition to the items customers would expect to find at other Barnes & Noble retail outlets, the new bookstore will offer Vanderbilt textbooks, course materials, apparel and other university items. A café will also be housed in the store. McCarty said the new location makes possible the scheduling of authors’ nights and other kinds of programming that the limited Rand space cannot accommodate.

Through Barnes & Noble College, a wholly owned subsidiary, Barnes & Noble operates more than 630 campus bookstores across the United States for such institutions as Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University and Georgia Tech.

“We’re honored to have formed this new partnership with Vanderbilt University and look forward to bringing them what’s next in educational content and retailing excellence,” said Max J. Roberts, president, Barnes & Noble College. “Our commitment to driving innovation, delivering advanced technology, understanding what students need and supporting the needs of higher education will help us to transform the Vanderbilt bookstore into a robust and vital part of the university and the surrounding greater West End community.”

Rand Hall space decision delayed

The future use of the Rand Hall space that is being vacated has not yet been determined. “This is prime space, right in the heart of campus,” McCarty said. “Our hope is to engage student leaders as well as staff in deciding the best use of that space.”

Possibilities include expansion of the dining space as well as additional social and meeting space for students, but no decision is expected until after the start of the school year in August. “We pledged to Vanderbilt Student Government that no hard decision would be made until students get back and we can convene a committee,” McCarty said.