Buying textbooks for the fall 2019 semester was different for some students. One of Auburn’s oldest bookstores, J&M Bookstore, did not sell textbooks for this semester and plans not to sell them again.
This is the first semester where Auburn’s full student population is looking for the classroom essential and had to look elsewhere. J&M Bookstore stopped selling textbooks in March, said Operations Manager Ben Duncan.
The decision was a long time coming. In recent years, textbook sales have been dwindling with the rise of online retailers like Amazon.
“The industry has changed,” Duncan said. “I kind of liken it to the typewriter business. For years that was a whole industry. People sold typewriters. At some point it switched to computers, and typewriters faded out.”
Duncan doesn’t think it will be long before the traditional paper textbook will be a thing of the past as the popularity of e-books and digital course content rises.
Operating in downtown Auburn since 1953 just steps from Toomer’s Corner has brought many fans, students and alumni into the store, making them an integral part of the Auburn experience. J&M Bookstore wants to key into that idea.
“We’re trying to do different things to enhance that experience,” Duncan said. “Different things that go along with game day, go along with people coming into Auburn that have never been to Auburn.”
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The space the textbooks once occupied in the downtown location is now filled with THE locAL Market, which features art from local artists. J&M Bookstore has featured local artists’ work for over a year and has expanded it since it stopped selling textbooks.
Duncan said featuring local artists at the locally-owned store was a given and something that would fit right in at the downtown location.
The location on South College features more game day and tailgate products where the textbooks used to be housed.
Just because the downtown retailer stopped selling one of its products it opened the store with, doesn’t mean it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
“As far as J&M Bookstore is concerned, we’ve been here 66 years in downtown Auburn, and we want to continue to be an integral part of the downtown Auburn experience,” Duncan said. “Doing these modifications, these transitions,w is part of that experience.”
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