Ulrich's staff is not allowed to answer such questions, and the Nebraska Books media line didn't return calls. Brad Braun, Barnes & Noble's local manager of textbook sales, says he as yet has no official news about whether the company will renew its lease in the Michigan Union. But Braun was happy to discuss the textbook industry from his vantage point--and, full of plans for the future, he certainly didn't sound as though his store was going anywhere.
Braun doesn't see HEOA as an enemy: "The biggest challenge that all textbook dealers have is getting the information from the faculty early enough to deal with it properly. Getting it the week before classes start doesn't help anyone."
Nor is he particularly concerned about the Internet, because Barnes & Noble is the Internet. The college division's e-trade platform is solid and user friendly, and it doesn't deal only in new books. With 600 stores nationwide (compared to Nebraska's 240 stores), B&N can maintain a large enough used-book inventory to compete with Amazon.
Another e-threat to textbook sales is the e-book itself, but B&N is on that one too. The company has developed Nook Study; the free Mac- or PC-compatible software is one of the major publishing formats for e-textbooks. Nook Study is not the same as B&N's Nook e-reader, emphasizes Braun: "The Nook, and that other one that starts with a K, are for pleasure reading. I love my Nook, but I wouldn't want to read a textbook on it." Nook Study runs on regular computers, but not on mobile devices such as the Nook or Kindle.