UPDATE: T.I.S. Bookstore stops selling books, rebrands to Illini Shop


Lily Katz

T.I.S. — the former bookstore — is now The Illini Shop.

By Megan Jones, Staff Writer

Students stood outside the Illini Union Bookstore in the rain Wednesday morning as the bookstore staff slowly allowed small groups into the store to avoid exceeding maximum capacity of the building.

The University-owned bookstore is now the sole location for students to purchase textbooks on campus, as T.I.S. College Bookstore no longer carries textbooks. Around five to seven percent of the profits made at the bookstore goes back to student activities for the Illini Union, Tod Piere, director of the Illini Union Bookstore, said.

T.I.S. was remodeled over the summer and transitioned into The Illini Shop Campustown, said Jon Tichenor, operations manager of T.I.S., in a statement. The area in the store where textbooks were previously housed is currently under construction.

Pietre said they were notified that T.I.S. would no longer sell books after the end of spring semester, and they prepared differently over the summer by hiring more student staff and increasing orders to publishers.

“We always evaluate changes needed after every semester based on many factors,” he said. “Obviously, we did not know what the full impact of T.I.S. closing would have, so it is a learning curve for the whole staff.”

Brett Alexander, senior in ACES, said he would look at both T.I.S. and IUB’s offerings online to compare the prices and buy from whichever had the best deal.

“The prices always varied. For some semesters, most of my books would be from T.I.S., and other times mainly from IUB,” he said.

He purchased books from IUB online two weeks ago, and he said they are normally ready for pick-up before he is back on campus. This year, he has yet to receive an email that the books are ready.

A line wrapped around the Illini Union Bookstore Monday as students gathered to get books on the first day of class. Many students said they had never seen as many people try to get in at once.

Pietre said that while the bookstore does receive a large amount of customers at the beginning of the school year, they have seen an increase in traffic this week.

“We have worked out a process so that we can serve customers in the most efficient way possible,” he said. “We have added register lanes and used a new queuing system this fall, which we will adjust after construction is complete.”

Kelly Zhagui, senior in LAS, said she typically buys books from the Illini Union Bookstore and did not realize T.I.S. was closed.

“I actually saw the line shorter last year,” she said. “It’s never gone around the whole store like this.”

Textbooks sales cycle and shift for many reasons Kevin Theile, a T.I.S. representative, said. Consumer buying trends such as ordering books online from sites like Amazon, students sharing books or not purchasing books altogether, can also have an affect on textbook sales, he said.

While he said T.I.S. has not experienced all those factors at the University, it no longer made financial sense to carry textbooks. But the store will stay open to sell collegiate apparel and merchandise.

“T.I.S. College Bookstore loved serving U of I student textbook needs and we were privileged to do so for 25 years,” Theile said. “We strived to serve our customers well, paying close attention to students, parents, faculty and staff alike.”

T.I.S. Bookstore, located at 707 S. Sixth Street, also has an Illini Shop at the Marketplace Mall in Champaign.

And it’s not the first bookstore to turn to general merchandising. Follett’s Bookstore, which opened in 1938, stopped selling textbooks in 2010 and later closed in 2013.

The bookstore was located on the corner of Wright and Green, where Panda Express is now located. The company originally scaled back to only sell high volume textbooks for general education classes, such as Chemistry 100, but the store eventually stopped selling books altogether.

In a previous interview with The Daily Illini in 2013, T.I.S. Store Manager Brian Paragi said the store has felt pressure from competition in book sales over the years, specifically with online retailers affecting them the most. Due to the pressure, T.I.S. scaled down the size of its store location from two floors to one.

Some professors create course packets for purchase at Notes and Quotes, a store on John Street, but the Illini Union Bookstore is the only shop for physical copies of books in Campustown now.

“T.I.S. has long enjoyed being part of the Champaign-Urbana town and retail community and we look forward to continuing business in this same spirit but with a different product mix and even larger Illini fan focus,” said T.I.S. CEO Tim Tichenor in a statement.

Mitch Foster, sophomore in AHS, said he thinks the Union is a fine bookstore other than the long lines.

“Obviously having one bookstore on campus would affect business,” he said. “It’d be nice to have another, but I feel like this rush is just a one-time thing. It’s not a big deal for me.”

Jennifer Disalvo, freshman in LAS, said she has gone to the bookstore multiple days and Monday had the longest lines.

“Even downstairs there’s just not that many people at the counter,” she said. “And they got calls so they have to take that, but I guess they’re doing it the best they can, especially with the other one closing.”

Aaron Navarro contributed to this report.
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