Buy the book: Follett redefines its bookish image

Faced with a background of book retailing that was stagnated by years of tradition and a lack of innovation, Follett College Book Stores is bringing together the bastion of progressive thought with a redefined image.

Color, action, vibrant lights. These are not elements normally associated with college book stores. Follett College Book Stores at the University of Illinois, Champagne, Ill., is out to change that with its first flagship store, scheduled to open this summer.

A high-tech motif is evident in the use of materials, light, industrial metallics and hard surfaces, which contrast the softer carpets and upholstered seating areas. The technology is evident predominantly through the cyberwall and monitors throughout the book store, Internet stations and copy stations.

The focus of the entire retail environment, the cyberwall stands 20-ft.-by-30-ft. high and projects LED messages, sporting events, television shows, commercials, etc.

The building shell, with its glass tower and neon rotating sign, further distinguishes Follett from other book retailers. The retail environment was designed to become a social nucleus and gathering place for the campus.

To enhance the social aspect of the retail environment, Associates in Architecture & Design Ltd., Scotts-dale, Ariz., added a cyber cafe, which further enhances the meeting/gathering place concept.

A series of stores within the store are located off the central meeting place and feature local campus spirit, music, high-tech campus life, etc. Each store is clearly defined through use of space wall trussing, providing the backdrop for vibrant and information graphics and signage.

Each store or book grouping is further defined by the central "pod," which creates its own identity and place of being for students so that they feel comfortable in the overall environment as well having a separate area to relax, explore and research. The gathering place motif is further enhanced by comfortable seating.

Each pod also is a central point for a series of high-tech book displays and racks featuring text books and other hard-cover books for that particular subject. A full range of peripheral retail SKUs supplement each pod. For example, in the Bio Science pod, smocks and goggles are merchandised alongside the text books.